Therapy is in session.

Happy first day of Summer and I hope everyone had a loverly Father’s Day yesterday!  My sister made ribs and I’m still picking them out of my teeth-not that I mind.  Ribs is good.

Our unbarbeque on Friday evening was super dang fun.  The neighbors from up the street are hilarious and hanging out with my friend Eric from high school and his family was wonderful-it is always good to have more Missourians in the hood-especially from Columbia, a city that grows smart, overeducated hicks that like indie rock.  Eric and I talked a little about our reputations in high school.  My perception of him wasn’t what he thought most people thought of him and his perception of me was more nerdy than I would give myself credit for.

What I’m getting at is, I think a lot of people from high school thought I’d be a published author long before now.  I was certainly on that track, but through lack of self-confidence, fear, paranoia, laziness, and a few jacked up boyfriends, it took me a while to get here.  For many years I resisted wanting to be a writer because I wanted it so much.  Make sense?  Putting yourself out there is hard and yet, you have to do it or you’re just writing for yourself.  And that’s fine, but c’mon, not the goal most writers want to achieve.  I want you to want to read what I write, although it scares the crap out of me what you’re gonna think about it.  Especially the fact that I can’t explain why I write things the way I do to every person that reads my work.  That’s  me wanting people to like me more than it is wanting them to like my writing-  a difficult thing to master that I think only gets better the more you publish.

I had to be this age to get skin thick enough to almost handle all the rejection that comes with being a writer.  Back in high school, sure I had a lot of promise, but my writing never got rejected, ever.  I may still hold the record for the most pieces published in my school’s lit mag as a matter of fact- don’t know how I’d go about checking that, but as of my last high school reunion, some of my classmates were now the faculty advisors on the lit mag and I still held the title.  (If you feel like I’m bragging, let me point out that I was also a mega theater geek and never got any role that I tried out for in all three years of high school except for a play directed by this guy I was dating.  Theater was my big rejection lesson in high school and to this day why I just don’t care if I get a part or not, I can take it.)  I think the lack of rejection of my writing did a disservice to me because when I got to college and had a teacher who hated my work (incidentally, I also hated hers, so we were not a good fit for critiques at all) I  gave up on writing fiction, stopped being an English major, and ran over to the theatre.  There I was comfortable with my rejection and through writing my own monologues, could be one of the better writers in the class again.

This scenario played out over and over again in my life.  When the writing wasn’t getting approval, I learned to do something else and usually did fairly well.  I worked in a dry cleaners with a guy who was a better writer than I was and went to a better university than I did, so I quit that and went to floral design school and was second in my class.  I met my husband and he was a published writer and I wasn’t, so I went to culinary school and was second in my class.  See the pattern?  Finally at 30 when I went back to finish my college degree (the unfinished part has to do with one of those pesky, mean boyfriends) I did two things I hadn’t done before.  I took special math classes for people who have a hard time with math and made A’s (confidence boost in the millions) and I took a series of creative writing classes from a teacher whose writing I admired and whose criticism was constructive and straightforward.  He was encouraging, but also told me that he could tell I’d skated through a lot of the time and I needed to get my act together and work.

Let me tell you, I’ve never worked harder at writing something than I did at Glimpse, so that’s why if you like it, I’m overjoyed, but if you don’t, I’m not gonna be crushed and stop writing.  That’s what 1993-2003 me would’ve done, but she was young and didn’t have a clue that she’d have more pride in the things that didn’t come easily to her than those that did.

(Cue inspirational music- preferrably from the opening credits of Friday Night Lights, especially the parts where Riggins stands in the rain and Tami dances around in the kitchen.)

5 thoughts

  1. I loved this. I swear when I read it I almost wrote my chapter I’ve been working on in my head as I run just to see what you thought b/c I think I could actually open up and let you read it. And if it sucked and you told me, I could deal with it.

    My freshman year of college I took this required English course. I wrote a paper and had a respected friend read it. He said it stank and I totally needed to start over. He said I was writing like I was trying to impress the teacher (which I was) and you could tell. He said to write so it sounded like me.

    I teared up a bit but rewrote the paper and it rocked. At least my teacher thought so. She read it in front of the class. She liked all my papers and said I had writing in my blood. I got this boost of confidence and I let her submit the paper to some contest and it didn’t win and I refused to submit anything ever again. Felt like maybe my teacher just liked me, not my writing. Didn’t stop to think that there are thousands of entries done by thousands of talented writers. Did not like the rejection.

    A couple years later I took another English course and my teacher worked with me and really seemed to like my writing. For our final we had a portfolio and part of our grade came from how we edited a peer’s portfolio. Our teacher gave her comments to us on a tape that we listened to. The student who edited my paper trashed it. I was shocked. Hurt. You name it. Then I listened to my teacher and she apparently had read the comments the student had made and said, “Yeah, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Your paper was great…” and then went on to say why.

    But despite that wonderful saying, you know what I choose to hang on to? All the crap about how my paper stank. I realized that there will always be people who hate, dislike, frown at, and yawn at my writing. Always. That was hard for me to swallow so I gave up writing for fun.

    Since becoming your friend on FB I have had tiny flames of “just do it” spark inside me. If I ever get the guts to ever write again, and ever have anything published, you’ll get a dedication no doubt. I think you are amazing for all that you’ve done and how you just keep plugging forward.

    And my elementary/jr high and 1 year of highschool perception of you was a fun, silly, smart, talented, cool kid. I got to come play with you and a couple other kids from Shepard one time in elementary school and thought I’d fallen onto the cool kid wagon.

    Thanks for sharing all those thoughts! And thank goodness your blog doesn’t limit characters in the comment section! 😉

  2. Rebecca-I would be honored to read anything you want to send me. I’ve read your blog and you can totally write and it totally sounds like you. And you use the word totally a lot less than I do. 🙂
    If you can get some inspiration from my overshare, I think that’s great!

    Two things: I think it’s hilarious that you thought I was popular. Maybe we got to hang out with the cool kids that one day together? When I think of you back then, I think of a sporty girl that all the boys wanted to hang out with because she could kick their butts in soccer and they liked it.
    I enjoy that you write in your head while you run. I wish to be a runner for the peacefulness of it, but my body does not compute. I write in my head while driving around in the mini-van instead.

  3. Yes, I did like to play soccer with da boyz. I was a total tomboy. It’s a wonder I ever learned to make girl friends–especially b/c I liked to wear my fav outfits over and over again before they got in the wash. Gross. But there was no way I was going to wait (w/ 5 siblings and their wash) for my bluish/lavenderish sweat suit with rainbow stripes down the side to get cleaned. I remember once Angie Ailor asked me if I owned any other clothes. That was my first wake up call that maybe I should pay more attention to social things.

    Well, the fact that you can write in your head while driving in your mini van (no doubt with 2 children in tow) makes me bow in front of you and say “I’m not worthy.” Usually any thoughts of my own I’d like to have are drowned out by the chaos that comes from my back seat.

    And for the record, I hate running. My poor characters often develop diseases, die, fight, etc when I’m thinking of story lines when running. Pretty sad.

    Oh, I haven’t forgotten about the Plum book. I’m just lazy when it comes to getting to the Post Office. But somehow I don’t really worry about your lack of reading material.

  4. High-five! *waving hands maniacally in the air*

    In all seriousness, I get it. Boy, do I ever. Call it age or perhaps a pevel of maturity, but I’ve always hid what I loved to do until recently. I still have a phobia about letting people read my work, albeit much smaller, but I make myself do it. And you know what? Tons of inspiration, opportunity, and positive feedback! Who’d a thunk? Now, I can actually say to people, “I’m a writer, but I make my living working an EVIL DAY JOB.” Because, unfortunately, I have yet to win Powerball and/or get paid oodles of cash for my writing. Knowing you back in the college days, Just let me say that I am so proud of everything you’ve accomplished since then! Wow. Just wow. I seriously can’t wait until my copy og Glimpse arrives, and I can read it! (I just called my Mom and told her about you, and she wants to read Glimpse too.)

  5. I’m glad we’re both still at this writing thing all these years later! I was sorry to hear about your mom’s recent medical woes. 🙁
    I hope her spirits are improving.
    Kim wants to know if you’re on Facebook? I’ve tried to hunt you down there before. 🙂 Dude, half of fricking Schafer hall is on there-Gracie, Sarah, Anne, Kim, JT, Tony, Bob, Brian, Amy Stoner. We perhaps need to have a mini-reunion wherein we all drink too much and sing Pixies way too loud like the old fogey’s we’ve become. 😉

Comments are closed.