Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stage Fright

I have performance anxiety. No, not that kind. (In case you were wondering.) The kind that comes from having to get up in front of a large group of people. Doesn't much matter what venue it is, either. I haven't been on an actual stage in decades, not since whatever grade it is they stop doing school plays in. I think my last "star" role came back in the 4th grade. It was a musical, as much as that pains me to admit it.

Other than that, there was a brief span of years as a musician. Clarinet, not the guitar or something cool. In a school band, not rock and roll. Which meant I wasn't up in front of people performing solo or anything. Frankly, being part of a large ensemble was much easier, because then you're just another face in the crowd. Your parents and friends can pick you out, and your name will be in the program, but most of the time you're looking at the music in front of you and not out at the audience. Which is much easier, believe me.

Stage fright sticks with me even so. As much experience as I have in a classroom, in all the different venues that I've taught in there's still a bit of nervousness involved on that first time out in front of a new class. I know it will all go well, and that my having done the same thing - more or less - hundreds of times before makes things go that much more smoothly. There still remains something slightly unnerving about walking into a room full of strangers knowing they're all going to be focused on you.

I think some of this has translated to my writing. Specifically the part where it needs to go out into the world and be shown to people. You would think, based on the largely positive comments I've received and a certain awareness of my own abilities that this would not happen to me. It's not like I'm unpublished. Granted, my fiction publications are more limited than I would like, but my name is out there. Heck, I'm a contributor to a book that's actually on Amazon. (Don't buy it, though, they still owe me money.)

And yet... just like walking into that classroom, there's a certain amount of paralyzing fear that grips me before I can muster up the courage to hit the "send" button on a submission. It's different than a classroom or somewhere else where I have no choice and must go on. It's voluntary, and if I don't then no one else will be left wondering where I am and why I haven't shown up. Still and all, there is a price to be paid if I don't overcome that paralysis.

I'm getting better at doing so. Not great, but better, and expect that even if I succeed beyond my wildest expectations, there will always be a trace of that apprehension. Even if I'm sending off the next sure-fire bestseller where my name will be bigger than the title to an agent who's been with me for decades... I'm still going to have that little bit of stage fright.

The show must go on though, right?

1 comment:

Tiz_Mee said...

THAT . . .was so personal and the best ever!!