Thursday, October 23, 2008

The World Wants Me to be a Public Speaker

My genius French professor decided on Tuesday that we should give short presentations on various cities in France for sometime next week. This isn't so bad because it seems short and relatively easy.

Then I received an email from one of the editors of the literary magazine that had published a short story of mine a while back. Short and brief, it was a simple invitation for me to read sections from my story at one of those cafe reading nights. Then she emailed me again with more details, stressing that she and the other editor hoped that I will accept.

My throat closed up.

I've realized that I'm an intensely private person. I like to think things through - sometimes, I tend to overthink things to the point where my friends and family want to smack me. I regret moments when I post things or say things too rashly and I can dwell on mistakes for days.

But all's well when I'm still relatively hidden. I can accept all kinds of harsh comments or pointedly cutting reviews. I can nod and take it in stride, accept everything as tidbits on how to improve my writing.

To stand out there in the public though ... all my senses seem particularly heightened. Everything seems brighter, hotter, more suffocating, more painful.

I remember, way back in high school, I had received Honorable Mention in the Bertelsmann Random House, Inc. Creative Writing Competition during my senior year, but it was during a time when writing was still mainly my secret and I had no courage to attend the award ceremony by myself.

Only later, when I received my gift package and award by Fedex, did my parents find out about the details. They weren't exactly pleased, but I think they'd been pretty much resigned to the fact that it's the way I am.

Even last year's fiction award ceremony featured me sitting nervously in the back row with my friends prodding me up on both sides. My presenter had to search for my presence in the audience before making his speech and I just made a beeline up - shook hands awkwardly - out the doors.

I'm a wimp.

I think that my short stories have always held more pieces of myself than anything I'd ever attempted to try to voice out loud. For some reason, they've been the places where I'd more often than not laid out my heart and tears, but I don't believe they will ever see the light of day unless it's for a professor or a judge's remote eyes. Even now, my Fictionpress postings aren't something that I'd necessarily wrenched out of from somewhere deep within me - they're the types of stories I jot down for shameless fun and what I feel can be sent forth in the world without worries about people plagiarizing an extremely personal account of mine. Like some weird form of protective device?

Then False Facades was plagiarized. Several times.

And I quickly realized that no matter how rough my writing can get, I can't relinquish my hold on these stories. To me, taking an awful draft of mine is no different from stealing one of my more polished works. Is it like a mother loving all of her children equally, in spite of the fact that some of them may drive her completely batty and she's just counting the days until they fly the coop?

Either way, I think I'm losing my zany, flighty spirit I've set aside for Fictionpress fun.

I'm more wary now.

And I think it affects my writing more than I'm willing to admit. I'm not sure if it's necessarily a good thing. I may be obsessed with trying to write better these days, but is it good for my mental health to lose the remnants of my freewheeling, unrestrained style that I'd kept solely to let loose?

I need to get back to just simply enjoying writing again. I've signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year solely for this purpose, but I hesitate to say this out loud. With my sleepless schedule, I may not finish, but I hope the deadline challenge will allow me to just freewrite what I've been thinking too hard about these days. Hopefully. Maybe. I don't know. I do have some new ideas though and it'll be nice to use this time to test new waters. I'm thinking since the whole point of this month is to basically bang out as much words as possible (though they offer 50,000 words as the finish line), this can be a freeing experience and I need not spend so much time obsessing over each word and sentence structure. Maybe. In these recent years, I've been getting really anal for some reason and to let go of this anxious controlling instinct I've developed, this might just add to my burden rather than offer relief. I picture fingers itching and skin crawling.

Wow, how did the topic of presentations get to this long reflection on writing? Huh.

I think school's been getting me down. I have quizzes and exams coming up again (yeah, when did they ever stop again?) and I feel so drained these days. So blank.

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