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/).
You were far more courageous than I. I’m only an honorable mention (Shirtless in Spirit.) Like you (and most writers) I tend to be very introverted, and to add a little more discomfort, I despise pictures of myself. I actually got so far as to ask my wife to take the picture, but she gave me ‘that’ look and asked, “Are you sure?”
So, in the end, I asked Zachary if he’d just put me down as Shirtless in Spirit.
(In other words: congratulations to your braver spirit.)
Thank you so much :) I think just being involved is the most important part. But I can tell you that taking that picture was a very liberating experience. I can’t look at it, but I’m happy I did it.
By the way, is that a baby goat in your Goodreads pic? I soooo want one! It’s too adorable. In case you didn’t know, I love animals. I’ve got a two cats (one of them is cross-eyed and half blind), two dogs (one of them posed with me), and three newts. I think a little goat would be a good addition.
Also, great interview with Jernigan. Your book sounds interesting, too. Might give it a try in the next few months.
Thank you for the kindness.
The only pet we’ve got here is a mean, fat cat. He is too jealous to let us have another diminutive citizen in the house. Well, maybe a fish.
The lamb pic was a funny snapshot my wife took when we’d gone to Ireland. I’d just told the little guy I was having lamb for dinner and he started kicking–he didn’t have much of a sense of humor about it. (I didn’t eat him.)
My books have gotten some good feedback. The first one is almost out of print (weeks away,) but the second edition is about ready to launch. I hope to re-release by mid-summer. I’d highly recommend waiting for the re-boot, it is far superior.
Thanks again for the kind words. Find me on FB so I can keep up with you. I’m the bald Jake Elliot with the lightbulb in his mouth. (AKA Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.)
I’ll wait for the second edition. I’ve got a nice to-read list to occupy myself until it’s ready.
My Facebook is on the fritz, but as soon as they fix it, I’ll find you. In the mean time, I’ve sent you a friend request on Goodreads so I don’t miss any updates.