My journey to published author, has been a series of steps beyond my comfort zone. Each one, small in its own way, but nonetheless taking me forwards to a new place. I always thoughts those early steps would be the biggest I’d take – deciding to write a book, sitting down to write a book and especially the first time I shared a draft with my husband, Seán and asked for his feedback.
But as I reflect back on my journey over the last two years, I realise that the biggest step beyond my comfort zone wasn’t those early steps, it was the moment I embraced being front and centre as a published author.
I’m someone who has spent most of their career as the producer behind-the-scenes, making everything happen just as it needs to for those who are in front of the camera.
The first indications that I was heading front and centre was when I had the opportunity to read the audio book for The Freelance Bible. I arrived at the recording studio – the sort of place I’ve been to many times with my producer hat on – and it was only when I was greeted as the talent that the penny dropped. I was here as the talent, not the producer and was treated as such. In recording breaks I was shown to the artists’ green room, where other professional voice artists were also taking their breaks. It was exciting and unnerving in equal measure. Most of all it was hard work for three days so there wasn’t time to dwell on the implications of these changes.
As publication day arrived in March, I happily picked up a copy of my book, held it aloft in front of me and let the book do the talking, very much as if I were the producer behind my book, rather than the talent who created it. I continued like this for several months – leading with my book and following behind it like a diligent producer, all the time remaining firmly within my comfort zone – behind the scenes.
Then, about six months in, that penny dropped again – this time a lot more noisily. If I am to achieve with my book what I want to – to help all freelancers be the best freelancers, they can be – then the book is only part of the story. The other part is about me, the expert on freelancing, stepping out onto the front of the stage and ensuring my voice is heard.
As someone who has spent much of their career behind the camera, being in front of it is not something that comes naturally. And however much I tried to find excuses about why this was a bad idea – I could see clearly that this was the direction needed and I had to take a deep breath, remove the old comfortable coat, and lean into this new reality.
On a practical level this meant an update to my website, so it now leads with a video about me and my work, rather than hiding behind an image of my book. This video was probably the most symbolic for me as I took this giant step outside my comfort zone.
Leading from the front doesn’t feel comfortable yet. I struggle to watch myself on camera and I still prefer to hide behind the keyboard! It is still very much a challenge that I have to push myself to keep working at. But working at it I will, because I know it is the next stage of my journey. As I reflect back now on my journey so far as a published author I’m struck by how much harder this step is than the earlier ones. But then that could also be that it’s because it’s real now and I’m still learning.