Virtually Shy

Since the pandemic, more writing and bookish events have gone virtual. The switch opened up the world to those who are unable to travel or afford attending conferences, workshops, and classes (though some are still too pricey). Zoom and Google Hangouts are now the hushed chatter before a panel or grabbing drinks after a reading.

I'd love to do a reading series for all kinds of poets via Zoom. It would be a boon to The Handy, Uncapped Pen if I could start classes or a type of conference with camera capability for my community. The Speak Easy Project has some incredible instructors for poetry (and financial aid), and yet I can't bring myself to apply. Beyond my lack of technological prowess is something much more difficult to overcome... my shyness.

I'm uncomfortable in the spotlight and on camera, but I can't pinpoint when it all started. It didn't used to be this way. Maybe I'm just more self-conscious or out of practice. A lot of people feel the same, but none of the myriad of resources or tips I've come across have actually helped. And, being disabled adds an extra layer of complexity to my interactions.

Perhaps, if I just dive into it, I'll end up desensitized to my fear. Too bad every "kiddie pool" approach still has me shaking in my floaties.

Is there anything that helped you during virtual gatherings with strangers?

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