Rehearsals for my newest play started recently. And I was convinced to not only act in it, but also to play the top billed character. A character who is written to be absolutely obnoxious. A character whose dialogue is intentionally bland and terrible. And as we went through the process of the first read thru of the script with the cast, I spent the entire time wanting to hide in a hole, feeling absolutely self-conscious over this script I wrote and now had the audacity to allow myself to be a central figure in the production of it.
As the director would constantly ask me what my intentions for a specific scene were, noting how he saw things differently, I kept thinking how much I wanted the focus on how this script was written by me to be downplayed. How I wanted to deflect the attention off myself as much as possible because I felt embarrassed.
Now, I want to note, I know I didn’t have any real reason to feel embarrassed. The cast was laughing throughout the entire read thru. They were having a grand old time going through the exploits of this goofy cast of neighbors as they work to find out who killed the HomeOwners Association President. Based on the response of these cast members alone, I shouldn’t have felt embarrassed.
Yet I did. And I often do whenever I hear my own words spoken out loud. This is at least half of the reason I’ve never done a book reading. Although I typically consider myself a good writer, and I’m confident enough to put my stuff out there, I don’t really like being around when it’s being spoken.
In fact, I generally like to downplay my efforts as a writer in general because I often feel like I’m playing pretend, even if I have readers across the globe and an ever-growing pile of people who tell me they absolutely love my writing.
The bottom line is, although I feel I’m a competent writer, I’m not a very confident writer.
And it’s times like this, times where I should really feel as though I’m finding success and people are appreciating the stuff I’m doing, that I most feel like it’s time for me to quit this whole mess.
In fact, I did basically quit writing at the moment my books were most popular, worried that people would judge me and my writing poorly somehow.
And what’s stupid about all of this is that I typically have a pretty thick skin when people tell me about issues they have with my writing, especially when workshopping a script for the stage. I think my response in situations like this is due to an absolute fear of rejection of my writing. Like, I can handle a reviewer telling me how much they hated my books, but, I can’t handle the fear of people telling me how stupid my writing is.
So, here I’ve been for the past week, thinking about that first read thru, fearing for the second rehearsal, knowing that the cast was having a fantastic time working through this script, but also knowing that if I had had some more time, I could have really polished up the dialogue even further and made it into something even more awesome.
Which always brings me back the thought that I should just quit writing altogether.
I love writing. It’s my passion. But it’s a heartbreaking task. And it’s a heckuva lot of work, which is an especially important point to consider at this time in my life where I’m way too busy to do most of the things I want to do.
And so, I consider quitting, knowing that even if I do take some time off, I’ll always come back to it because I have so many stories I still need to get out of my head.
One of my sons recently plowed through the two books in The Defenders Saga, my superhero series. Since he started reading them, he continually commented on his favorite parts, but more importantly, now that he’s finished, he keeps telling me how excited he is for the next book in the series. A book that I’ve had basically plotted out for nearly a decade.
And a book that I don’t even have in the schedule for writing right now.
But also, a book I feel I need to put more toward the top of my writing list simply because I do have a rabid fan whose ready for the next installment.
Which is where the real weirdness of this whole funk I’m in comes in. At the same time that I’m seriously considering quitting the whole mess of writing anything, I’m thinking about how I really want to work on another book in that world that I built.
Because the truth of the matter here is that no matter how much I find myself struggling with my self-confidence when it comes to my writing, this is my passion.
And I’ll probably keep doing it forever. Even if the simple act of someone reading my books is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.