Monday, May 9, 2016

Panic. Don't Panic. Panic. Don't Panic.

About a year ago, I gave a keynote speech at the Ontario Handweavers & Spinners 2015 Conference. The topic of my talk was “Sources of Inspiration”. It was a great opportunity to ruminate on my own personal sources of inspiration. Among those sources, I listed “deadlines” and “proposals”. I also told the audience that to keep myself inspired I say “yes” when asked to do something new, and I say “no” when asked to do something old. After such a public announcement, I have felt obliged to abide by this strategy.

Here’s how: last year I was asked by Anne Merrow, editor of Spin-Off magazine, if I’d be interested in making some instructional spinning videos for Interweave. That was something new, so I said yes. After a number of conversations, we agreed that I’d do one video on “spinning woolen yarns” and another on “spinning worsted yarns”.

Now, I have years of performance and presentation and teaching experience. Years and years. Although I do feel a healthy dose of adrenaline when I present, I do not experience stage fright to any great extent. In fact, I feel lively and a little bit wicked – in a good way – in front of or interacting with an audience. But. I am camera shy. Really, really camera shy. The very thought of having my picture taken turns me into a stiff, panicked deer-in-headlights. The very thought of being videoed – for all to see – for all eternity – made me feel I was suffering from a severe virus. Sweats. Chills. The whole thing.

I agreed anyway. After all, I had several months to prepare. And I do feel quite comfortable with the topics: I teach them frequently, and I’ve written about them extensively. I prepared. I devised outlines. I created samples. I practiced. I got excellent advice from Anne, and Jill Brooke (talent coordinator for F&W), and Lindsay Smith (the instructional designer assigned to me). I also got encouragement and some good tips from Galina Khmeleva and Patsy Zawistoski, both of whom have made numerous excellent videos.

The dates for the video shoots seemed so far away, but those months went by. Fast.


I flew out to Fort Collins, Colorado last Wednesday. The videos were shot on Thursday and Friday. I flew home on Saturday. It happened. I did it. It was scary. It was scarier than my dissertation defense. They said I did fine. They said the make-up (which I don’t wear in real life) looked fine. They liked the linen blouse that my friend Becky made for me. They said I was very well prepared. The two people who were actually in the studio while the cameras were on – Lindsay and the camera man; I’m terrible with names – were calm, kind, and very helpful. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Don’t panic.

Even though I’m done with the videos (tentative release dates in July and August this year), just writing about it is bringing back some of my anxiety. High Anxiety. I am not ready for my close-up, Mel Brooks.


By the way, Fort Collins is charming. I hadn’t been there since the late 1970s. I did get to walk around the old downtown district: a used bookstore, a coffee shop, a gem/rock shop, and – of course – a yarn shop. The weather was delightful. The people were delightful. My meals were delightful. The margarita at Buena Vida was delightful.
Don’t panic.