Friday, September 10, 2010

Now Departing My Comfort Zone

First, a little backstory: My daughter is a senior at Purdue and is taking a class called Leadership for Organizational Change. I've been homeschooling my Asperger's son since first grade. He's now a freshman in high school.

A couple weeks ago my daughter called me, and the conversation went something like this--

"Hi, Mom. I have something big I need to talk to you about."

Okay, so now every mother's list of worst nightmares is running through my head. "Yeah? What's going on?"

"Well, in my leadership class I have this project I have to do, and I was wondering if I could interview you for my class."

Huge relieved sigh. "Sure. What's the topic?"

"The phases of transition. You know, like how writing has affected your day-to-day life. Oh, and we're supposed to do the interview during class."

"Okay, so you ask questions about time management and that sort of thing."

"Yeah. Could you drive over on September tenth to do it?"

"That should work. I don't have anything else on the calendar for that day."

"Great! Oh, and I need money for..."

Fast forward to a few days ago. Another phone call. This time we discuss the questions and what she wants to cover during the interview. An outline via email follows shortly thereafter. Visualize an inflating balloon here...

Today. Up at 6am. On the road at 8:30 after shower, breakfast, getting dressed, doing the morning dog and cats routine, changing clothes, waking son, remembering to take outline and assorted other necessities (like a couple jars of homemade salsa, peaches and cream instant oatmeal, etc.). Arrive at 10:30. Walk to class. Introduction to professor. Class begins. Have I mentioned that I'm not comfortable with public speaking?

About now I'm wondering where my daughter and I will sit while we discuss the psychological phases of transition I've experienced since I started writing. Will everyone be able to hear me? Will my ineptitude cause her to get a poor grade?

"Okay, let's get started. Student #1 (name has been changed to protect the no-so-innocent) will be interviewing her mom, Mellanie. You can stand here at the front of the classroom." That was the professor speaking.

And did I tell you I get very nervous about this sort of thing?

So Student #1 asks me how long I've been writing and when I decided to try to get published, as well as how many years I've been homeschooling. This leads into a discussion (me, talking to the class) of the three psychological phases of transition--ending, losing, letting go; the neutral zone; new beginning. Yes, daughter asks the questions we discussed during phone call number 2. I know the answers! I also have a cheat sheet (the outline). We move on to the reflection topics and Student #1's concluding statements. Question/answer time. Yes, people asked questions about my writing! How many hours a day do I write? How long does it take to write a book? What was the pitch line I used for my editor/agent appointments at the RWA National Conference? Do I use a pseudonym? All stuff I could answer!

Thirty minutes on the nose. Clapping. Positive feedback from the professor. Nobody fell asleep or yawned. And I didn't faint, throw up, or say something incredibly stupid! Okay, so it wasn't horrible. I survived!
And I stepped outside my comfort zone. What have you done that's outside your comfort zone?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With a Kick!


  1. Loved the blog!!! I challenge myself like this once in awhile. Move outside my comfort zone and write something I never could imagine myself writing, or doing things I never in a million years thought I would find myself doing. It's strange but it does prove to us things are only out of our comfort zone if we allow them to be.

    Congrats on the great interview!!!

  2. This little tale was a fun read. I've been working on my public speaking skills for awhile. What is out of my comfort zone is my new topic, which is related to history. I hate telling people I don't know something, but I'm learning to say it with grace, I hope :) Also, using technology to present ideas on a screen while I'm speaking is really out of my comfort zone! I've done it twice so far and will again on Monday.

  3. Would you believe the "code letters" I had to type in to publish the last comment spelled out orator? haha

  4. Nice, Mel! Good for you! My outside the "zone" is happening next week when I drive all by myself to Michigan for some R&R and research for my current WIP. Five days alone on the road...hold a good thought!

  5. J.J.--Thanks, and great attitude. With this success next time should be easier :)

    Cathy--Thanks for stopping by. We are all learning as we go. What an appropriate security code word! Do you think the blog fairies did that on purpose??? :D

    Nan--Thanks! Be safe and have fun on your trip!

  6. Good for you, Mellanie! I foresee many more interviews in your future!

  7. LOL, Cheryl! Hopefully your foresight is zooming in on the interviews I'll be doing in regards to published books! Thanks for stopping in.

  8. Hey, chica. Just left you an award on my blog.

    Hope you're well! :-)