(sounds like the title of the book Jane Austen never got around to writing …)
Anyway! I said I had some more Shameless Self-Promotion(TM) to do and here it is … I am a cover girl!!! Admittedly it is not quite the fame-and-glory level of being on the cover of the Newfoundland Herald — but I have made to the cover of the Canadian Adventist Messenger.
This all came about when I was contacted by my good internet friend Lori (who is married to my real-life friend Scott, but for me Lori exists only as a text-based life form, beating me at Word Twist and Scrabble on Facebook, and leaving witty comments on my blog). She writes for the Messenger, which is the national magazine for the SDA church in Canada, and asked if she could interview me for a profile.
I didn’t hesitate. I never hesitate when asked if anyone can interview me. I love to talk, and I love to talk about my writing, and I love to talk about myself. No shame there whatsoever. I guess the fact that I am a writer, and a blogger, already predisposes me to enjoy talking, but I know there are some writers who are shy and hate interviews. Not me. Just start asking the questions and I WILL ROLL.
Then, near the end of a happy, chatty half-hour phone conversation, Lori mentioned that they’d like some pictures to use with the article — PICTURES OF ME — and I went into a sort of downward spiral of mental decline from which it took me weeks to recover.
See my words in print? Sure! Be interviewed on radio or even TV? No problem! Ramble on for hours on my views about everything under the sun? Absolutely!!
Have PICTURES OF ME printed in colour, in a national magazine that will wind up in people’s mailboxes? Oh no no no no no.
I have HUGE issues about pictures. Now, I’m not one of those people who puts her hand over her face and refuses to be photographed. I will allow my picture to be taken; I’ll sometimes even mug and ham it up a bit for the camera. I have pictures of myself posted here on my blog, and on Facebook and Flickr. But pictures on the web seem somehow … ephemeral, compared to pictures in a magazine.
I think in forty-three years and tons of rolls of film (and many more digital pics since they got invented) I have seen maybe five pictures of myself I was totally happy with. At least three of those were taken before I got glasses and braces in Grade Six. Shown any picture of myself, I can critique my hair, my clothes, my facial expression, almost anything about myself. It’s funny because I rarely give a thought to what I actually look like during the day when I’m out interacting with the world, but freeze the moment in a snapshot and all my insecurities come crawling out of the woodwork.
(Strangely, video images of myself, like the TV interview posted below, don’t bother me. I think it’s because I’m allowed to move around and talk, which distracts people from actually staring at me. The staring is the problem. Or maybe it’s stillness, since in real life I’m rarely still and almost never quiet, so a still, silent picture looks unnatural).
Things got even worse when Lori told me that the editor, Crystal (also an internet presence in my life), wanted to use the article as a cover piece. A picture of me on the COVER? Of a MAGAZINE??? Oh I am SO not a cover girl!!!
Lori kindly suggested it didn’t have to be a close-up — we could do a nice Newfoudland scene shot, for example, that just happened to contain me in it somewhere. And that … after one freezing photo November morning photo session, 40 shots, numerous technical difficulties with the download, further mental health difficulties when I actually saw myself in the pictures, a huge effort at moral support from the Strident Women who talked me down from my metaphorical water tower, a second freezing photo shoot the next day, another 30 shots … that was how we came up with the beautiful picture of Coley’s Point beach, taken by Jennifer, with discreet little me sitting on a rock down in the corner, trying to hide my nails which I’d painted blue in a moment of the madness the night before, and trying not to look like I was freezing to death.
I cannot begin to tell you the level of analysis I have put into this picture, and into the two they used inside the magazine (there were numerous other photo shoots, each one accompanied by a mini-mental-breakdown, to provide the Messenger with some casual snaps of me doing “everyday” things.) I could give you a list, right now, without even thinking, of twelve things I hate about these pictures, and it’s all about me being crazy and I tell you, there is nothing like being profiled in a magazine to make all your crazy come screaming out of your subconscious mind into the light of day.
But it’s over now. I have no qualms about the article, which Lori did a fine job of writing, and if I step back and pretend the whole thing is about someone else I can acknowledge that the pictures are fine too (of course, if they were of someone else I would only glance at them for 15 seconds, which is all anyone else is going to spend looking at my pictures, which is why this level of relentless self-analysis is ridiculous. But that doesn’t make it go away).
How Oprah does it every month, I’ll never know. I’d be a nervous wreck. So don’t look for “T” magazine to hit the newsstands anytime soon. I’d have no trouble coming up with stuff to fill the pages, but the cover shoots would kill me.