First fears. First impressions

Before I left this morning, I looked up the author who is facilitating the workshop to refresh my memory of his books. Once I started reading his biography, that old feeling weepy feeling started creeping its way up my body and landing point blank at the pit of my stomach. I started to fixate on how wonderful his life has turned out. I started comparing my own rise and fall of success. I did the same thing last night when I met the two women from the other writing sections. Why is it that I am never quite good enough, that my journey getting here is less significant than theirs?

Noticing that I was totally freaking myself out, I told myself to stop it and shut off the computer. I bumped into my new friend, who I seem to have affectionately called “poetry girl” in my other blog, so I guess that is her name here too, and we went to orientation together. And I ignored my panic by focusing on coffee and breakfast. That was until one of the co-ordinators talked about the evening readings that we were encouraged to sign up for. That totally petrified me. I think that I don’t recognize that I am one of those people who are to go up. That is for “others” not me. And the truth is, it is me too. So, because it is probably the scariest thing for me, I must do it.

The whole situation reminded of something that happened to me when I was 9. I wrote a poem about the qualities that I valued in friendship in showed it to my teacher. She liked it so much that she asked me to read it in front of the class. So, proudly, I got up in front of the class and read my poem in my best and clearest voice that I could muster. When I was done, I heard this girl in my class say, “That is because you don’t have any friends.” And then laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. My teacher tried to quell the evilness that had just transpired, but the damage had been done.

It is no wonder that I am petrified reading something so personal in front of a group of peers when one of the first times I had every felt so confident in my own voice, was completely and utterly rejected. It is no wonder that I continue to feel that deep sense of vulnerability. It is amazing to me that I am even writing a blog – but then I am not even sure people are seeing it. Maybe that it easier?

I must say, the people who work here are really all about creating a comforting experience for the artists here. There are a lot of wonderful resources, including an exercise facility and a library. Us writers have our own room with a kitchen that is available for us 24 hours a day. I plan to do some writing in that room while I am here. There is also counseling available and a 24 hour hotline. Clearly, there is an understanding on the importance of supporting the creator any way they can. It is something that I don’t think that I am used to – probably because I am still slow on supporting my own.

There are 7 people in my group from a variety of backgrounds and interests. It should make things pretty fascinating. We each get one hour in session to focus on our piece and then a half an hour or so with the instructor in the afternoon. In the evenings, as I mentioned above, there are these readings. I had planned to try and get my piece done earlier in the week so that I would have more time to work on it, but one of my classmates mentioned that she had since changed aspects of the piece she submitted and wondered if she could use that as well. Our instructor asked us how many of us were in the same situation and I raised my hand. I had tweaked bits and changed various things – in particular one of the character’s name. He kindly offered to allow us to put a new version in to the group. So, while we were choosing times, I was pondering if I wanted to do this. So it is Friday. And as I know…these things are meant to be when they are so I won’t question it.
I won’t stress about it.
I won’t think about it all week long.
Nope. not I…

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

MAUD, my YA novel based on the teen life of author L.M. Montgomery will be published by Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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