Are you good at answering the phone? Me, not so much.
Picture it. I’m in the heart of writing a scene where my heroine is meeting her birth mother for the first time. She’s feeling beyond excited – can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t string two words together excited – and yet she’s terrified too. This is what she’s wanted all her life; the event that’s been the focus of her dreams and plans for years, ever since she first made the decision to search for her birth mother. What if it doesn’t work out? What if her mother hates her? With her confidence beginning to slip away, she slowly approaches the café where she and her mother have arranged to meet…
Then the phone rings. But it’s not my heroine’s phone, it’s mine; about two feet away from my ear, jolting me violently out of my writing zone. I know as soon as the bright, smiley voice on the other end of the line asks how I am, that she’s from a green energy company trying to sell me solar panels, because the same company has already phoned me twice that week. So I scream internally, cutting off her cheerful sales patter with my best assertive phrases, but the damage, as far as my writing goes, has been done. I have to leave my heroine at the café door and go to make a restorative cup of coffee for myself.
So when I get back to work and the phone rings again, it isn’t surprising that I snarl my hello. Not surprising, but not such a good idea either when I want to attract people to my writing courses.
A woman – let’s call her Linda – has wanted to do a creative writing class for ages, because she has a dream about writing a book. Her self-esteem is low about it because people have always laughed at her dream, demanding to know what on earth she could possibly have to write about. Linda sees the advert for my WriteUP Courses, and reads that they combine creative writing with confidence building activities. It is like a sign to her. “Yes,” she thinks. “That’s just what I need.” So she takes a deep breath and finds the courage to pick up the phone to make the call. “Hello?” snaps the woman on the other end of the line bad-temperedly, sounding as if she’s standing in the middle of a kennels. Off putting? Just a bit.
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