I’m saying no to stage fright

by Lesley on June 10, 2014 · 8 comments

in writing

In the blogging world there are people who fill arenas, there are people who fill two hundred seat dinner theaters, and there are people who simply fill a quiet subway station with their sweet melodies.

A few years ago, at the advice of industry experts, I decided to take my subway station performance and turn it into something with a little more pizzazz.  I spruced up my costume, added a few more show times and even began performing in other venues. I wanted this thing, this place, to be a gateway to stardom…otherwise known as a book deal.

I wrote and wrote and wrote until more of you began showing up for my performances. You trickled in from off the street, or a friend brought you, or maybe you even saw me on another stage around town. Regardless of how you got here, I’m really happy you came. But, can I admit something? The house lights are on just high enough that I can see your faces. And I have some major stage fright.

Last week I sat down to write a new blog post and I stared at the screen for a really, really long time before shutting my laptop and moving onto something else. Some people call this “Writer’s Block,” but I promise you I have plenty to write about. The problem is I’m much too self-conscious about my pitch and costume. What if I slip and fall? What if I forget the words? What if someone finds my act too conservative, too liberal, too opinionated, not Christian enough, too narrow? What if they just want country music but sometimes I rap?

Have you seen the way people tear up authors and bloggers and performers who don’t say or sing the right things? There’s a big, huge critical world out there and I’m still deciding if I’m brave enough to face the booing.

You should know that some of this stage fright is probably also rooted in the fact that eight publishers have now denied my book proposal. They say I’m a great writer… but…they won’t represent me. A few say cancer memoirs are too depressing, while another publisher already has other cancer books in the works, and another publisher just doesn’t take on memoirs, period.

I’ve been left to ask, “What do they really want?” “Am I on the right track?” “Maybe the book isn’t very good?” “Maybe I’m making a big fool of myself?” “

So, here I am, standing on the edge of this little dinner theatre stage wearing a costume and awkwardly tapping the microphone. My agent says there’s still hope for my book, and you, my blog readers, keep showing up (thank you!) but I’ve made a decision: I’m putting my jeans back on.

I’m not giving up—I’m definitely not giving up—I’m just going back to what feels comfortable and true and ME. You’ve never asked me to be a big star. In fact, many of you have thrown quarters in my figurative tip jar since I started performing back in 2006.

What does this mean for Barefoot? It means I’m re-committing to write what I feel about, when I feel like it. No schedule. No set topics. No strategy.

I’m giving myself full permission to create with abandon, no worries about booing or cheering at the end. I may sing country ballads or gospel, a little rock and even some rap. (LORD help us.)

Just listen for me when you exit the subway car. 

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8 comments
tim_fall
tim_fall

It sounds to me like you're going back to the way things should be done, Lesley. Write on!

ChristinaKiefer
ChristinaKiefer

I am so excited to read this! Ready for a nerdy admission? Your blog is one of my all-time favorites, and almost every single morning I check to see if there's a new post. If there isn't one I admit there's some disappointment (not that I expect you to write everyday) BUT when there is a new post I feel giddy. I savor every word, and always appreciate your insight and perspective. You absolutely have a gift for storytelling, and I'm so grateful that you share the good, the bad and everything in between. It can't be easy to be vulnerable and so open, but it's also what makes you great. Keep writing, and don't ever give up hope on your memoir! God just hasn't put it in the right hands yet. XO

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@ChristinaKiefer SO nice of you to say, Christina! Really. I am flattered and thankful you read. Your encouragement goes a long, long way. xo back!