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.)