(Un)Helpful Advice For a Quiet Writer (and Some Other Stuff)

I am not exactly the world’s best at self-promoting or of pushing myself forward. It used to be shyness that stopped me, way back in teenage days. Shyness being a term to describe quiet people with noisy minds – minds that chatter away saying: “They won’t like you if you say that.” And, “You’ll look like a fool if you do that.” And, “I really ought to stop being so scared and stupid, but I just can’t.” And, “People don’t like quiet, shy idiots so I really need to change. But I can’t.”

Majorly helpful advice for a quiet shy person.

A few years have passed since then. Okay, a few decades. If you met me now (and some of you have: Lizzi, Geoff ) you would notice I can talk. Sometimes I even talk too much. Come to think of it, sometimes I write too much too, since most things I write need a lot of pruning. (29,000 words slithered from Drawings In Sand during several red-pen attacks and still it’s around 400 pages.)

Nowadays, the main reason I don’t self-promote it because I forget to do it. I’m too busy playing solitaire cooking dinner, wasting time on Twitter researching for articles, posts and stories, plotting and planning fanciful dreams realistic goals for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, to remember. However, if I’d like people to read what I’ve written, especially if it’s not on this blog, then it would be a good idea to let you know about it.

So anyway, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m about to do a bit of self-promoting.

Yesterday on Brain, Child Magazine my sweet and talented teenage daughter and I debated Do You Let Your Teenager Wear Clothing You Consider Inappropriate? You’ll side with her. Most people have so far. I really don’t mind though because we wrote our pieces separately, and I didn’t read hers till she’d finished. I was very impressed that the conversations we’d had about this had more impact than I’d thought, or else she’s just considered the issues because she’s an intelligent young adult.

Here’s some of what she had to say:

When I was about fifteen, I decided that I liked how I look. I don’t entirely know how I did it, considering I’ve grown up in a society that bombards girls with reasons to feel that their bodies are inadequate. But I did. Which isn’t to say I don’t have moments when I look in the mirror and see imperfections, but on the whole…I feel pretty good about my appearance.

To read the rest, and get my piece too, click here.

There’s more. Start a girl on self-promotion and there’s no stopping her! But really, this is for those of you who haven’t been following my blog so long, who probably just met me through the 1000 Voices. You might not even know I write short stories, or that I come from the Shetland Isles. But I do and I do. For some reason that I don’t understand I’ve had more success with getting stories published if I set them in the islands of my childhood than anywhere else. Perhaps it’s the romantic idea of islands people like. The reality can be harsh at times however, and my stories deal more with reality than romance. I’ll be honest – since the stories in Looking For America didn’t set the world on fire when they were in anthologies and magazines, I’ve been surprised at the kindness of the reviews. I thought they were fairly ordinary stories about ordinary people; But according to most reviewers, they deal with ordinariness with some beauty. Here’s what one says.

Yvonne Spence paints. She draws beautifully crafted portraits of real people. And while you are reading her paintings, you wonder “How does she do it?”

Don’t take his word for it though, because for today and tomorrow you can get Looking For America for free. If you are in the USA, the first link will take you to Amazon.com and if you are in the UK, the second one will take you to the UK site.

And while you’re at it, do check out Drawings In Sand if you haven’t already. It’s the story of a single mother, desperate to keep her child, who struggles to overcome drunkenness, a violent boyfriend, a supercilious ex and to unearth a family secret. (I’ll love you forever if you buy it and write a nice review to make up for the one fairly stinky review it had lately.)




  1. I am horrible at self promotion too, Yvonne! I actually have the time, and try to do it, but I cringe every time. Yuck.

    I’m SO glad you wrote this, and shared these projects that are truly works of your art. Be proud of them, and your words are worthy of applause!! (And promotion!!) And your daughter apparently has your gift too!!

    1. Author

      Thanks Chris. I’m feeling very proud of my daughter just now.
      I am beginning to think maybe we just have to see what we write as a gift and so we are offering that gift instead of promoting our selves. (Still working on seeing it that way…)

    1. Author

      Faith, I might be gonna make you cry yes. (Sorry. 🙂 ) But I hope you’ll laugh a few times too. There is one funny story, and another has touches of humour.

      1. Oh my! I inhaled the stories. Love ’em. I’m especially taken by the connection to place. My writing is similarly connected–but to a very different place. Thanks for giving me a bit of a feel for your place.

  2. I have them both! Reading time coming up. And yes as a dad I’m probably even more protective – catch me when someone catcalls my daughter in the street and be afraid, be very afraid. There have been times when she has pulled me away. Thing is it’s not the clothes, is it? You want her safe and the trigger is her sex not her wardrobe. So you can’t change that, not that you want to and you aren’t about to stop her going out so you sublimate your impotency onto her dress sense. At least that’s how I viewed things with my daughter. I gave up on dress and concentrated on transport. Group travel, using properly accredited cabs always being available for lifts even at 2 am and never ever speaking in the car unless spoken to so she never felt embarrassed ( also a great way to hear what is going on – it is amazing how they forget you are there if you never react). I treated those journeys like her diary. Hers and inviolate whatever was said. Well, unless drugs were mentioned and only drugs. Not alcohol, not sex ( not that there was much mentioned). Of course this only lasted until Uni where she still is but it seems the lessons about safe travelling are now pretty ingrained. Hope so. Oh and I see what you mean about over writing. (my problem). Melissa has a great economy of words. Her novel wil be fab.

    1. Author

      Geoff, yes you are right – it’s wanting to keep her safe. An irony that is not lost on me is that young males are more likely to be attacked than females. (I can’t remember the figures, but our perceptions are distorted by media for sure.)Your method of driving them even at 2am was a good one – and the few times Melissa has been out late my husband has gone to meet her. We have decided that self-defence classes would be a good idea, but as yet haven’t done anything about it.
      As for her novel – I’m biased but I think it’s very good – if she ever finishes it because she’s inherited my habit of starting novels and not finishing. We’ll maybe have to spur each other on.(After the exams are over!)
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. I’m looking forward to this, Yvonne. After I read my book club book, and then Beth’s. Yours is next.

  4. I’m convinced it’s because the way you brought her up, educated her, broadened her mind, infused her with confidence and given her creative, mental and emotional independence…the result is what I saw in her piece!! 🙂

    I do hope I can bring up my kids to be so clearheaded and articulate!

    1. Author

      Thanks Roshni. I have definitely tried to encourage confidence and for our daughters to think for themselves. It might mean some arguments, but I’d rather have that than fearful obedience!

      I have a feeling your boys will do just fine!

  5. I’ve got a couple in the queue, Yvonne, but I’ve fetched your book and it’s in the Kindle. And I hate reading on Kindle. 😀 Looking forward to it! And thank you – it’s a wonderful offer.

    1. Author

      Lisa, I’m not a Kindle fan either, but after I’d had my books up for a while I gave in and got one. It is handy for travelling though. Hope you enjoy the stories.

  6. Whew! Stopping by – we’re in the middle of selling our house and I’m staring a new job in two weeks (and hopefully won’t have to do the 1.5 hour commute for too long!)…but I needed a reprieve. Actually, I can’t wait til I get settled in and can really get back into things I love to do: namely writing.
    And this is also why the 1000Speak campaign is so awesome, but I haven’t been able to participate.

    Now for this post: I just can so identify with what you’re saying. I’ve come to terms with the fact that self-promotion for writing isn’t my thing. So, in the coming months and years, I’ll always continue to write, but I’m going to try not to worry about statistics or self promotion.

    In any case, I hope you’re well. Sorry I’ve been so absent. Sending hugs your way!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.