I started with dance when I was 5, and I hated it.
“Arms up, back straight. You’re not doing it right again!”
I would hold my tears until I was home again, but I didn’t have any choice about the lessons. I practiced till my arms were sore, and it was still not good enough. I didn’t have the feet or the build for ballet.
Its been many years, but I still dance (not ballet). I’ve made peace with it and think of it more as exercise, social time. But the pressure is still there. I screw up at every performance. I still get yelled at, and now I do my share of the yelling. Panic, stress, here we go again, grin and smile, and pretend.
I can’t stop the yelling in my head, and I’m harder on myself than any of my teachers ever were. It doesn’t get better when I write.
This is never going to get published. There’s no hook here. You’re info dumping. Your prose is awkward. You use too many adverbs. You’re telling again. You’ll never write like X. Most people trunk a few novels before they sell one so this one’s probably a stinker.
Sound familiar? I bet you hear those things too.
The voice got louder when I printed out that last draft, but I still went on and cleaned up the first chapter. Went over it with a fine toothed comb. Made it spotless. Hook here, hook there, start with action, foreshadow…
(Harry will vouch that I’ve been out of my mind last few days, borderline OCD.)
I sent the pages out to test the waters, and got rejected.
The funny thing was, I was relieved.
The worst thing had happened, and it wasn’t the rejection, but my editing fear come true. I’d worked the text so much that I stripped myself out of the writing, ended up with a stagnant, immobile, immaculately coiffed statue of wax.
I am far from perfect. My glasses are always dirty. I burn my food. Anything breakable, I will break. Make me run a block, and I’ll pass out. I’m afraid of buttons. I can only focus on one thing at a time. I put people to sleep when I talk…
But flaws are part of our flavor, our imperfect human voice. Passion gives things life.
I’d lost both. It was a good lesson to learn.
I was trying to do, to be, something that was impossible, and who I am not. Nothing I write will ever be perfect. I can’t be afraid to be me, and I must believe that is enough. I need to stop thinking about the lights, and the stage. Get back to just me and the music, a writer and her words.
In the meantime, I really need to find some earplugs. What do you do to drown out the noise?