Face your Fears! (a.k.a. I Met Dichen Lachman!)

Confession time: beneath my outgoing, friendly, confident exterior lurks a socially awkward, painfully shy inner child.

Sometimes she's at ease, well hidden beneath years of playing it cool (well, maybe not "cool" but passably affable). Often she wakes up just below the surface, blanking my mind and butterflying my stomach, but still letting me get on with whatever out-of-my-comfort-zone social thing I'm doing (teaching yoga in a new setting, meeting new people, etc.).

Last weekend, that inner fraidy-cat broke free in a true fangirl moment when I met Dichen Lachman. (Dichen Lachman!!!) 

Dichen Lachman (Altered Carbon, Dollhouse) was at The All-Star Comic Con last weekend. If you haven't heard of it yet, All-Star is a new comic con put on by some of my friends. Peter and I helped out as volunteers and were surrounded by friends all weekend. Yet even in that supportive space, I was incredibly nervous to meet Dichen. 

I was so nervous that I almost didn't go to her table at all. I've only been to a handful of comic cons and I've always focused more on the artists, vendors, and panels. Meeting celebrities just isn't something I normally do, mainly because it makes me feel super awkward.

But Dichen Lachman. 

I got up my nerve toward the end of the con on Saturday. Peter and I went over to say hello and get a selfie with her. What happened then was both awkward and awesome!

Yes, I had a fangirl moment. My mind went blank. My stomach turned to jelly. I stuttered out something super cool and original like, "I-- re-- really li-- liked you in Dollhouse!" Along with some nervous blather. 

I had no intention of telling her about my book or about the essay I'd had published in a Dollhouse anthology. My only goal was to meet her and get a picture without fainting or embarrassing myself too badly. 

And then Peter brought up my Dollhouse essay. I should have seen that coming and been prepared, but, no, I was in fangirl mode. I managed to string together a few words about the essay and how inspired I am by Jane Espenson (who edited the anthology) before nervously asking to take a selfie with her. 

(Diverting attention from me, because I am bad at this self-promotion stuff!) 

Our friend, Mike, was the volunteer assigned to work with Dichen all weekend, so he took the picture for us. After it was taken, I was about to thank her and say good-bye, when I heard Mike tell Dichen that I also wrote a novel. (Aaaaaahhhhh!) 

Dichen could have offered a polite congratulations and let us go, especially since we'd been there quite a while already. But instead, she asked me to tell her all about the book. We talked about the challenges of publishing and marketing, and she said she wanted to order a copy for herself!

After we walked away, I remembered that I'm a struggling indie writer who keeps a few books in the trunk of my car, you know, for emergencies, like when an actress I admire actually wants one. (?!?!)  Peter ran to get a copy, I signed it, and she graciously accepted it! 

So... Dichan Lachman now has a copy of my book!!!

In telling (and retelling) this story, a few friends have pointed out that I should have asked to take a picture of Dichen with my book. Yes, that would have been a good idea... but self-promotion is hard for me, and my brain was on fangirl holiday. 

I learned several things from this experience:

1. It's good to face your fears, even if you feel like an awkward mess while doing it!

2. Self-promotion takes practice and I need to put myself out there more often. (Like at tomorrow's book signing at Barnes & Noble, but that's another post!)

3. Dichen Lachman is a genuinely kind, supportive, and down-to-earth person! She didn't have to talk to me for so long. She didn't have to offer words of encouragement or say that she wants to read my book. She had long conversations with many others as well, and everyone I spoke to had happy, positive stories about meeting her.

4. Remember to mention the title of my book (The Insistence of Memorywhen talking about it, instead of waiting to be asked what it's called! 

At her panel the next day (online here), Dichen spoke about being inspired by other actors and creative people. She mentioned that she once wanted to be a painter, but turned to acting after finding painting too much of a solitary pursuit. 

I sometimes feel that writing can be isolating as well. However, connecting with other writers and working on some collaborative projects helps me recharge my own creativity. I'm going to make time for more of that, even if it includes some awkward social moments. 

Putting yourself out there can be really scary. It's uncomfortable to interview for a job, query an agent, audition for a play, meet a celebrity, or introduce yourself to a fellow writer/artist/etc. Do it anyway! 

Face your fears and you never know what amazing experience might unfold! 

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