Recently, as of Monday to be precise, I became a member of SSFFWA (Shirtless Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) led and organized by the wonderful Zachary Jernigan. It’s a great group with a motto I’m deeply behind:
Okay, the shirtless thing might not be something I regularly do. I’m going to ramble here, so be prepared.
Anyone who has followed me knows I’m an extremely shy person. One could say I have a very mild case of social anxiety. One on one I can manage—although I don’t like to be stared at for too long. Freaks me out. If you put me in a room with two very close friends, I can handle it. Add a third and I might get a little quiet. Now, put me in a place where I don’t know anyone and you bet I’m going silent. Here’s the fun part. I can fake it pretty well. My old boss (and now very dear friend) worked tirelessly with me and was able to teach me how to smile and join in occasionally. That doesn’t mean my stomach isn’t in knots, my hands still sweat, and I feel a tad lightheaded. I can pull it off, though. Something I’m quite proud of. I even made it into management and had a group of 15 who reported to me. I conducted team meetings and fostered a very close and relaxed work environment. I like overcoming challenges and pushing myself to be a better person. However, it was still painfully hard. I stood behind chairs or podiums when I presented, just so I was hidden a little. I dreaded each meeting. I hate speaking in front of an audience. My tongue ties up, I sweat like I just ran 5 miles, and I have a very difficult time making eye contact. Not to mention the nausea. To cap it off, I hate pictures of myself.
The reason I have rambled on this way is to show you how much I believe in the SSFFWA. It might have taken me a few days to work up to it, I might have waited a few hours after I had taken the picture, but I eventually sent my request to join the SSFFWA and bit off a nail while I awaited a response. It wasn’t long before I was accepted by Jernigan. I grinned childishly large and felt the camaraderie of being involved in something that means a lot to me.
If anyone has read my book, you might pick up on my dislike of judgements and prejudice. It’s subtly laid out. How Salvarias is treated. How mages are treated. You’ll see that those who should be the “good guys” often do acts that I find, and hopefully you do as well, despicable.
So to conclude this rather long post I will say this: We all have flaws in our character, but the SSFFWA is about identifying our less admirable traits and trying to become a better, more understanding and compassionate individual. If you’re interested in checking us out, you can visit Zachary Jernigan’s website (http://zacharyjernigan.com/ssffwa/).