Warning: This post comes with some horn-tooting, but it won't last long, I promise.
I've known I loved books ever since I was a little kid, but I've always had love affairs with other activities too. It didn't occur to me until a few years ago that I unequivocally adore books and reading more than anything else and that I wanted to be defined by that adoration.
Think about the people you know who have become one with what they love. It's hard for me to think about blogging without thinking about my friend Javacia because she's done such a good job building See Jane Write, a local women's writing organization (that you should totally join!). And it's hard for me to think about Birmingham moving in a more positive direction without thinking about Birmingham's cheerleader, Sherri, who has a hand in all things good in the city.
That's what I want. I want to be known by my love of books and reading to the point that people who have met me can't think about books without thinking of this book nerd right here.
But reading is kind of a solitary activity. The internet makes it better and there's nothing I love more than geeking out with my fellow book nerds online (unless it's reading in real life). I started a Facebook group for book nerds and it's going swimmingly. There are awesome conversations every day and it totally makes it worth it to check Facebook every day to see what's going on in there. I'd love for you to join.
Yet I was still running into this disconnect of becoming known for what I love. I can talk about books all day, online and in person, and I can read books all day and one day become the biggest book nerd the world has ever known, but... If I don't actually get out into the world with it, I'll never achieve my goals.
I decided I wanted to put myself out there more. The Facebook group was a start. Joining a book club came next. And now it's making myself more visible--I've started posting more book-related things to Instagram and Periscoping about books (or bookscoping, as I like to call it). Part of making myself more visible means trying new ways to make my reading a non-solitary activity.
I did that twice this week and both had to do with Go Set a Watchman. I went to the midnight release at Books-a-Million and the launch party at Iron City with al.com and B-A-M. Both times I was rewarded.
At the midnight release, me and my friends were featured by WBHM, the local NPR affiliate. Then at the launch party, I braved my fear of public speaking to ask a question of the panel. Although my question was, in part, misunderstood, an opinion piece turned up about it on al.com.
I'm not saying all this to toot my own horn, but as an illustration of a lesson I learned. Sometimes achieving the goals you set for yourself involves stepping outside of your comfort zone or doing things differently than you would've normally done. Sure, I could've just downloaded Go Set a Watchman on my Nook at midnight and not actually gone to the store. And, sure, I could've skipped the party to actually read the book, and if I had I'd likely be further into it than I am at present. But then I wouldn't have had these awesome experiences and I wouldn't have been furthering my goals of being known as resident book nerd.
I'm slowly learning that putting yourself out there can be rewarding, and that "putting yourself out there" doesn't have to be some major exhibitionist move. You can be yourself and do relatively small things because you never know who will see and who will notice.