Originally written April 30, 2002, published in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Newsletter
Yes, I finalled in the RITA. This led to a dilemma.. RWA wants a publicity photo (they even sent me little stickers to slap on the back). What photograph do I use? This picture will be projected on a LARGE SCREEN! Oh, ugh.
I think I have one pic left of the four I ordered from Glamour Shots (I did it for an RT ad. I thought I might find GS fun, I took a friend, even. It was agonizing). I didn't like the GS photo. I've been flip about this picture, posted for all to see on my website, I writhe (not in passion). "This photo makes my face fat but my cleavage just right," is my standard disclaimer.
It's been hell living up to this photo. I don't wear makeup. I rarely curl my hair – let alone shoot it with enough spray that the "do" would survive a hurricane. My fine hair usually goes limp within 20 minutes. I had to practice for hours until I appeared like a reasonable facsimile of the Glamour Shot. If I use the GS and I win I'll be walking up right after my photo has been displayed. I'll have to look the part. All that time and effort...I can't imagine getting myself together in such a nervous state...
Of course. I've only liked three photos of all the dozens taken of me in my entire adult life. I remember two that I was smiling naturally in. After consideration I decided to do informal photos. I chose a friend, Rose, who's a good amateur photographer. She's also someone I feel at ease around and can make me laugh.
I cancelled the first shoot. (I need to write – now that I've sold this excuse ALWAYS works). The next shoot was scheduled within just enough time to get the film developed and FedExed to RWA national in Houston. I HAD to go through with it. But I forgot that I had a wedding to attend that evening. Then my Mom called, "Make sure you come to the birthday party for your brother and your niece. Bring baked beans". The shoot was squeezed in before the party and my anxiety level rachetted up.
I bought the film for Rose and drove to her house. "What sort of look are you aiming for? asks Rose. "Professional casual," I say, taking off my jacket. I'm posed against the blooming cherry tree. Rose fiddles with the camera and my fake smile fades. She's ready. "Ah," she says, glancing up, "I see we're aiming for professional and grim."
So we take pics in dappled light and shade, with and without jacket, with and without glasses...we go to my place and take photos indoors with a different blouse against lace curtains. Rose really tries. I really try. I scooped up a cat and relaxed a bit. This was good, but he's not the right cat. I grabbed The Cover Cat. He hissed and wiggled away, several pics are ruined.
Rose and I trouped outside. Rose became desperate. "Ah, another pensive look.....Lean against the tree, pretend to be a dryad. You LOVE the tree....Think impure thoughts about the tree." Heaven knows what expression crossed my face then, but I think I smiled a little. We're on a roll. "Think impure thoughts about the hedge. Think/say chocolate. Think/say guacamole....All right we can be arty...soulful—"
The two rolls were finally gone. I was delighted the ordeal was over and I thanked Rose effusively. I only hoped there was one acceptable pic.
I arrived at the birthday party (with baked beans), and explained why I was a little late. "You look nice, Rob," says my brother (not taking his eyes off the closed-caption tv showing a golf game). "Thanks for my present," says my niece of eighteen. My fifteen-year-old niece looks at me and flips her blonde-streaked brown hair with long purple-ends. "You should try purple." "It wouldn't look nearly as good on me," I say, flinching at the thought of me in purple hair on a LARGE SCREEN.
I dashed home and prepared for the mountain wedding. My hair has lost most of its body and I tuck it behind my ears. I look so much better! Why didn't I try this look earlier? I'm sure all my photos will show me with puffy hair that makes my face look fatter.
Forty five shots were developed.. I didn't really like any of them, but I needed to chose one that would show me in all my glory (?) on a LARGE SCREEN. Actually, the soulful one seemed to be the best of the lot. I look visionary...definitely lost in the thoughts of a Paranormal writer....ok, maybe just on a different plane, as usual... I slapped the identifying stickers on the back and FedExed it with all the other material that's been awaiting the photo to go out to national.
I do have one consoling thought, at least I wasn't professionally tortured, the picture isn't a Glamour Shot.. If I win, the real me will dance up and claim that beautiful statue(s). And I'll look happier, thinner, BETTER than the photo.
May your inner peace be great today.