Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author Rebecca Hamilton.
Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be writing for you today! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new, ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?
Now that I’ve just blasted through my semi-standard intro, I realize I may have to stop and regroup. You see; describing myself as “excited” may be just a tiny bit untrue. Oh, excitement is present, of course, but so are trepidation, anxiety, and fear, as well.
But mostly fear, if I’m totally honest.
There, I said it: I’m afraid.
It should help to admit that, shouldn’t it? I mean, it’s supposed to help … right?
I thought that making a confession of that magnitude would release me … that it would be freeing, like having a weight suddenly lifted off my chest.
I don’t feel any better. In fact, if it’s possible, I feel worse.
But, before I go down that road, let me just take a quick detour here so I can ask a serious question: when the heck have any of us—you, me, the fool on the hill—ever had a weight on our chests?
I mean, seriously … when? I’m not talking about when you’ve held a small child or pet or perhaps tossed some weights around at the local gym; I’m talking about having serious weight on your chest. Do any of you bench press automobiles or heavy machinery for sport? (If so, please comment about the experience below.)
Now, whenever I hear that phrase—like having a weight suddenly lifted off my chest—very vivid and distinct images come to mind:
I envision a person lying on a floor—the floor is polished hardwood, with a deep, lustrous shine that looks like it must’ve taken hours to achieve, but was actually applied in minutes thanks to one of those late-night “As Seen On TV” products—and across this man’s chest is one corner of a sofa (and yes, it has to be a man, because it’s just too awkward … cruel, even … to imagine a woman propping up a sofa with her chest).
Now, this sofa is in a house full or people, and events occur rapidly, as if in a montage (which, of course, means that the theme song is by Survivor or Frank Stallone): people come and go, some sitting on the sofa, some napping, some jumping on and off; a dog keeps trying to sleep on the left cushion but gets chased away by a woman with wild eyes (but a gorgeous head of hair); an insurance salesman sits on the edge of it—butt hanging half on and half off as if he’s afraid to commit, all the while smiling a smile that’s supposed to be charming but comes off as nauseous—and he’s got that ever-present facial shine that might be a) greasy kids stuff he never grew out of, b) sweat because he’s nervous, c) sweat because it’s hot, d) sweat because you’re hot (wink, wink) or e) some combination of a through d … all of which means one thing: he’s going to wreck the hand towels when he decides to use the lavatory; some guy who looks like your uncle (on your mother’s side) lounging around in a ripped undershirt and stained boxers, arguing with late night television infomercials while consuming cheap beer and pretzels; and, finally, someone lifts the corner of the sofa off the poor man’s chest (while the theme song slowly fades out).
That’s the sense of relief I envision when I hear, “it’s like having a weight suddenly lifted off my chest.”
I don’t have that sense of that relief when I admit to all of you that I’m afraid. Still, the show must go on.
So … what is it that I am afraid of?
Monsters, of course.
And we all know that the worst monsters are people, right?
Let’s take my host for instance: Rebecca Hamilton.
Rebecca and I connected via Twitter late last year and we’ve been in steady, albeit infrequent, communication ever since. I’ve plugged her books. She’s plugged mine. So on and so forth.
In all our interactions, I’ve always addressed her as Rebecca.
Now, when she invited me to be a guest blogger at her site, I noticed that she blogs as Becca. Heck, even her site is beccahamiltonbooks.com.
Of course, that’s all well and good. After all, my given name is Thomas, but most people call me Tom. But when I asked Rebecca which name she prefers, she stated that her friends call her Becca.
However, what Rebecca (note that I say Rebecca, not Becca) failed to indicate was whether or not I was considered a friend … leaving me in quite a quandary. Did she mean to imply that I am a friend, so I should call her Becca … or was she warning me that, since only her friends can call her Becca, I’d better not dare to do something so familiar?
It’s simply monstrous.
But, seriously, people aren’t the monsters I’m referring to. The monsters I’m referring to are far more dangerous, far more insidious, and far more heinous than any one person is capable of being.
I’m talking about the monster of expectations.
We’ve been afraid of it since we were young. Heck, we were afraid of lots of things we could label (monsters, the dark, strangers) but we were even afraid of those label-defying expectations—the expectations of parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, etc.
And does it get easier as you get older? It must … because you’re older, wiser, stronger, (insert adjective here), after all. Right?
If anything, it gets harder.
Because this becomes a monster of your creation—and it doesn’t live under your bed or in the closet. It isn’t even the monster that faces you in the mirror after a long night of (insert verb here). No, this monster takes up residence in your head and grows.
Then—theoretically speaking, of course—one day, you write a vampire novel … and reviews are great … so expectations grow. And you grow afraid.
Before you know it, you’re asked to write a guest blog. You’re a writer, so expectations are high. You must write something enjoyable … amusing … amazing … (enter adjective here). And you grow afraid.
Like the aforementioned salesman’s sheen, the monster of expectations is also ever-present. If you’re not careful, it will take control of your life.
So, instead, I will face my fear: I’ll admit that it exists (see the last thousand words or so, if you missed it) and I’ll write a guest blog for Rebecca (who may or may not want me to call her Becca). I’ll even write book two of the Væmpires series.
Heck, if the pen is truly mightier than the sword, I should have no problem slaying any monster … of expectations or otherwise.
And if not today … then someday.