Stephanie Burgis
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In the past three days, Maya and I have both had to deal with some "first"s.

Maya had her first experience visiting a house with cats. Urk. We were all pretty nervous about this, especially because our first, beloved dog, Nika, had an automated cat-alert system, so that on the instant she saw a cat, she forgot everything else in the world and became one big bark: catcatcatcatCatCATCAT!!!!! (She ended up with a lot of scratches on her nose, which only confirmed her instinctive distrust of cats as a species.) So we were ready for Maya to do the same thing.

She didn't.

Instead, Maya took one look at the first of the three small, sweet, purring cats who lived in the house, gulped, and spent the rest of the visit hiding in the corner of the kitchen, her back to all three of the terrifying monsters...because if she couldn't see them, then they couldn't see her. Right?

Poor puppy. I guess we won't be getting a cat any time soon...

And I'm working on my own "first" today, which involves a fear that's every bit as irrational. I've been really enjoying the video blogs Sarah Dessen's been posting on her journal lately, and since I do have iMovie on my laptop, it seems like a good, fun thing to learn how to do - especially because, once my book comes out, I'll be living in a different country from the majority of my readers, and seeing me on a video is the most up-close-and-personal that most of them will be able to get. I have all the technology I need, I've talked happily on convention panels, in academic conferences, in classes and workshops that I've taught to kids and adults, and I genuinely love talking to, no problem, right? Right?

Well. Slight problem. Ever since I was a kid, I've frozen up whenever a video camera is turned on me. It makes me paralyzingly self-conscious. In all our family videos, I'm the one with my hands thrown in front of my face, begging the video-er to turn it off, turn it off, turn it off! Today, even with Mr D on my lap (because if my co-star is cute enough, it shouldn't matter that my own hair looks so bad, right?), I recognized that same old feeling turning my brain to mush as soon as the camera light blinked on.

I took four different 1-minute videos of myself doing possible vlogs. You guys aren't going to see any of them. Trust me, that really is for the best.

So this is my big challenge to myself over the next year: I must learn how to do vlogs. I can overcome my fear, I'm certain of it. And actually, I know that my fear is even more irrational than Maya's - my iSight camera, after all, is highly unlikely to scratch me on the nose when I least expect it, whereas cats...well, as much as I love them, I have to admit that that is a valid fear for an inquisitive border collie.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for overcoming my mental block? Are there any vlogs you particularly love? Have you done any vlogging yourself? Or - best of all - do you have any ideas for things you'd actually like to watch me natter on about in a one-minute video? Because my new theory is, if I actually had a specific topic to focus on, rather than just that ominous red video light pushing me forward, I might stop feeling quite so much like a deer-in-the-headlights-on-a-bad-hair-day...

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