November 24, 2015

Not playing it cool

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We’re often told in life to play it cool. That surge of emotion you’re feeling? That overwhelming fangirl moment? Hey, keep it down. Tone down your excitement. Play. It. Cool.

Don’t look. Just act like… you don’t care.

On Sunday evening, I was travelling back from Devon to Paddington, fiddling with the final touches of my manuscript on the train, listening to Adele (obviously). I got home, ran a bath, watched XFactor, the usual Sunday night lark. My boyfriend is away in Ghana at the moment, so keeping myself busy doing “me” stuff.

I log onto Twitter, and get a message from a publicist at Bloomsbury Publishing. It’s about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. A book I’ve been championing for the last six months and telling anyone and everyone about. A book I wrote a blog post about, that Liz shared on her Facebook page to over 1 million of her readers. A book that has changed the way I feel about creativity in the most positive way. A book that I had to buy twice in case I lost it. That book.

“Liz would like you to join her for lunch tomorrow,” the message read.

My heart was pounding.

I did not play it cool. “Omg! 100%!!!!! Yes!!!!!!”

She told me the details.

I realised I needed to play it a little bit cool. I didn’t want her to uninvite me by thinking I was freaking out.

(I was.)

“Sounds great. See you there”, I said. A more measured response. I sounded calm and collected, even though in reality I was still bouncing up and down on the sofa.

I think I felt embarrassed at first by my utter overwhelming excitement and joy. Maybe in these situations you’re meant to act like it’s totally normal.

But, guys, Liz Gilbert. Liz Gilbert.

I wrote my first piece quoting Liz about 5 years ago, the year I starting writing for Huffington Post blogs – the year the little thought crept into my head that maybe one day I might be a writer. Let’s give this a go, I thought. The thing I loved the most about Liz’s talk is how honest she is, explaining how her “freakish success” was hard to deal with at first. The doubt. The anxiety of “what’s next.” I realised this was one of the first times I’d heard anyone admit to the uncomfortable truth behind success.

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Like millions of others, I watched Liz’s viral Ted Talk and had to re-play it so many times, to catch every single word of what she was saying. Liz has this amazing ability to talk to a crowd, but make you feel she is talking just to you. The velvet tones of Liz’s voice, her authenticity, her realness, the way she can connect with anyone – that was it. That was the thing I was looking for. Writing and connecting. Connecting and writing. From then on, I followed everything Liz wrote. I just loved her frame of mind about the world. (See, I’m not playing it cool.)

I couldn’t play it cool – and I didn’t want to. For me: keeping your emotions down means you might one day not have as many. And I like having emotions. I respond with the same sort of “!!!!!!” response every time someone offers me an amazing opportunity, like travel trips I can offered through this blog. I never ever want to get to a point where I just shrug my shoulders.

Meeting Liz, a person I have learnt so much from, was hugely important to me. It just was. I didn’t care whether anyone understood or not – to me, it was the highlight of my year. I felt emotional and for once I couldn’t blame it on my time of the month. To meet the woman who’s responsible for keeping me sane whilst writing my book? Whose radio/stage interviews have soothed me when I’m freaking out about life? Who’s books have allowed me to escape for hours? It just meant so much.

As Liz says in her book Big Magic, teachers are everywhere. You suss out the people you want to listen to – and the people that can offer wisdom. We have YouTube videos, podcasts, websites, Facebook pages. We have so many ways to listen to people. We have places to go where people offer their guidance. It makes it easier to get through a bad day. Someone asked me the other day “what made you want to be a writer?” I couldn’t put my finger on it. No one in my family writes professionally, or influenced me in any way. But it came from external influences and from people who just connect with and you feel like you want what they have. Not in a materialistic sense – but they make you want to live your best life. With bravery, with a “do-whatever-the-fuck-you-want” attitude. I feel like 2016 is going to have a lot of Big Magic in it.

Thank fuck for Liz Gilbert.

  • A million times YES to this!

    I think there’s this tamping down of excitement that happens, especially if you work in a press related or entertainment industry field…. and sure, there are definitely moments when playing it cool is the best course of action, but I’ve come to feel that it’s unnatural to squelch such excitement.

    One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take more pictures then time I went to a department holiday party that was being held in the studio that Saturday Night Live is filmed because I felt the need to “act cool”. I ate a freaking taco on the stage of SNL for godsake. I should have been entitled to my excitement!

    Also, Liz Gilbert! SO exciting for you!

  • Ahh, this article spoke to me!!

    I can’t play it cool. I hate it. I like being excited when I feel excited!! Especially about people. I mean I like so many bloggers who have influenced me in such a good way that sometimes i feel like declaring my love for them but can’t because of the fear of being considered abnormal or something. I know in some situations you’re supposed to act cool but if you over do it, it does kill your emotions for later. I’ve been down that road and it sucks.

    Love your work, Emma! It’s always fun to read. 🙂 xx

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