It’s funny what frightens us. This evening, crime fiction conference Killer Nashville starts here in my city and runs through the weekend, and I’m on my first-ever author panels. Although I’m not quite shaking in my boots at the prospect, I am a little nervous. OK, more than a little. I’ve been pondering my chicken-hearted response. Sure, studies have shown that most people fear public speaking more than death, but it’s not as though I’ll be alone up there. Several other authors are on each of my panels.
In my time, I’ve done some pretty daunting things and lived to tell the tale. When USAID first sent me to the field to write about agency projects, I found myself in Bolivia’s infamous Chapare Valley, then one of the world’s major coca-producing regions, interviewing farmers about the U.S. crop-substitution program. My control officer from the La Paz mission (USAID field offices are called missions), the head of the crop program, and two Suburbans full of Uzi-toting bodyguards accompanied me, but I was the only female in the group.
In Egypt, I clambered all the way to the top of the Great Pyramid. Inside. Not an undertaking for the claustrophobic. I traveled to Guatemala and Sri Lanka when they had active rebel insurgencies. And I ate a hamburger in Venezuela, which some hours later did prove not to have been at all a good thing.
I’m not saying I wasn’t apprehensive each time, but that wasn’t about to stop me. Each time, the task at hand fascinated me, and I was so completely in flow that worry became a low background hum. I’ve prepared for my Killer Nashville panels, and after all, they’re about the information I’ll provide, not about me. So, tomorrow morning on my first panel, I’m hoping flow kicks in right away. After all, I couldn’t let fear stop me.