You know them. Those small number workshops where you can't hide and you have to participate. Can you feel your palms sweating? Your pulse pounding?
Well, I'm off to one next weekend and I can tell you - my throat is dry and I've still got a week to go. This could be a good thing. It could be the best diet I've ever been on. My stomach is so knotted I can't eat.
I'm looking forward to this workshop. I really am. But - I'm not the most confident where my grammar is concerned. Plus my brain goes on a hiatus and I lose the ability to talk like a reasonably intelligent human being. The speaker is going to expect me to know something, anything about my proposal.
So, this is where I am. A mass of insecurities - like all writers. I can't bluff it. I don't have the confidence to do that. I've been plodding for so long, well I feel like a failure.
Then I run into people I've known for eons - and I get the 'Oh...... you're still not published?' Include the pitying look and there you have it.
I know that's why myself and friends of mine, who have since gone on to become published stopped going to some conference because of that question.
Don't get me wrong I love seeing my friends, but that question has the power of lowering my self esteem to levels that even a single cell organism would be able to glide over me.
I think I need to take the attitude - who gives a shit.
My hide after all these years still hasn't toughened up enough to be able to withstand that question.
My tender pride and confidence wilts and I think that's a shame.
I should be proud that I've survived. That I've kept that 'never say die' attitude.
So. when I get asked that question on the weekend - I'm going to say - 'Yup. Do you want to see the scars?'