presenting 101: pretend like you know what you’re doing

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presenting 101: pretend like you know what you’re doing

UAA ConOn Saturday, October 24th, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the first United Authors Association Conference held in the gorgeous Springville Library. I met some awesome people, sat in on some informative presentations, and learned valuable information on how to be a better writer. The only problem? I had to present at said conference. Like, someone decided I was qualified enough to teach other people about writing and asked me to present to a bunch of other writers.

*Looks behind shoulder
*Sees nobody there
“Oh, wait, you’re talking to me?”
Ha ha, right.
“Wait, you’re serious?”

Yep, they were serious.

I was asked to teach a class on “Perseverance in Writing” and was even given a fancy little name tag that let the world know I was a presenter. I watched as all these accomplished literary people set up their class and shared their knowledge, my stomach knotted with uneasiness at the thought that I was supposed to be one of these presenters. I was supposed to know what I was talking about.

I was absolutely terrified. I don’t even remember the last time I was that scared for something.

But, just like all terrifying things, it came. Quickly, and swiftly, and much faster than I wanted it to. I was up until 3 AM the night before because I’m super smart and waited until the last second to create my presentation and get my stuff together.

Yay for procrastination, right?

Anyway, I arrived at the Springville Library, which—side note—is a stunning building. If you are ever in the Springville, Utah area, you should definitely check it out.

I spent the day meeting some really cool people and got to attend some awesome presentations. I learned about marketing, using misdirection, point of view, character voice, and forming a relationship with your (hopefully) future buyers. Of course, I was the youngest presenter, which was another terrifying aspect, but I was able to meet some older, accomplished, and talented writers, publishers, and marketers.

And the best part? Everyone there loved writing! The atmosphere was just so much fun.

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Naturally, it got a whole lot less fun when 2:30 came around and it was my turn to present. But as my sister/assistant put so well: “This is so cool! Everyone here chose to come hear you!” And though my room wasn’t full by any means, it was still pretty cool. The best feeling is when you’re sitting in a class and the guy sitting in front of you pulls his schedule of the conference out, and he has circled your name—when a stranger has planned to take time out of their day to hear what you have to say.
It was a crazy experience.

They announced my name and then I was on. I started my presentation by talking about superheroes—what else, am I right?—and how they are like writers: we all have slightly different tactics but we all have one common goal: to save the world or to write a story (or both). And when things get hard, we have to remind ourselves why we started. After all, just like superheroes, every writer has an origin story.

I told my audience about my origin story: my legs, my surgeries, and how I began the magical and slightly insane journey of writing. Then I went into the hard parts of writing—character development, plot constructing, and sharing your stories—and what tactics I use to get through, or persevere (everyone loves a good title use, right?) through them.

My presentation ended with a good motivational poster: you are the protagonist of your own story. We all have our own antagonists, plot arcs, climaxes, the low points when it seems all is lost and the high points when we overcome. You don’t know what your next chapter holds. I repeated the idea that writers are like superheroes because we have the power to create stories, and stories have the power to change and save lives. And I know that because stories have changed and saved mine. It’s important to persevere through writing (title use) because it’s the closest parallel to persevering through life.

I had a great interactive audience that asked some excellent questions about my books, characters, and writing process. People took notes, thanked me, and I even had a fan that took home a copy of my book. I guess I did a good job of pretending like I knew what I was doing because everyone seemed to take me seriously—that’s a win in my book. Plus, I didn’t even pass out due to fear, lack of sleep, or complaining body, which was another feat considering I was about a month and a half out of surgery. Double win. After an all-day affair, I was so happy to leave the beautiful building, get in the car, and drive home. Talk about a roller coaster.

All in all though, it was the good kind of scary experience where you plop into your bed at the end of the day, exhausted, and stretch out all your sore muscles, close your eyes, let out a long breath and think “Wow. I did that.” Then you give yourself a congratulatory smile before passing out.

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Mission accomplished.

[Keep up with me on social media so you can catch my future conference presentations]

2015-11-03T13:21:42+00:00 October 30th, 2015|My Life, Surviving on a Whisper|

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