Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Writer's Insecurities

There's nothing like going to a poetry reading to make you realize that you are a crappy poet. I mean, the talent is so all-encompassing (if you've gone to a decent one) that you want to fold up your silly piece of paper, slip it back into your purse, order another hot chocolate and fade into obscurity because you know you will never be that good.

Or at least, that's how I feel.

I read my work anyway because that's what you do, especially when feeding off the energy vibes of the others. People are polite. They chuckle at my Beatles reference. They applaud. I step down.

I think one of my largest concerns is not a lack of talent but a lack of bravery. The truly gifted ones stood up and talked about being raped, about their preschool daughters being sexually abused, about the most horrific things you can imagine. Yet I leave my best stuff at home because "it's too personal."

Part of being a writer, I think, is dispensing with such vanities and speaking to the world.

I want to be brave enough not to hide behind a pen name or a mediocre poem, but to stand up and say to the world, "This is my story."

I read a fantastic quote the other day by actor Barry Pineo. He was talking about acting but the principle is the same:

"The story is the hand you're holding out to them that says, "Come with me." Whether they choose to take it is unimportant. Some people no longer wish to travel. What's important is that the offering is made."


colleen said...

I used to be positively phobic about poetry readings. I still get nervous but also see some improvements the more I do it. I have learned over the years to go for nerve when writing. But sometimes I read something just for fun. Humor works well too at readings. Sometimes some comic relief is in order.

colleen said...

I think I said that before. I totally thought I was at another blogger's site who also writes and loves the Beatles!

I would love to hear more about the poetry readings there, compared to the ones we have in our small town.