I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.
-- J. D. Salinger, "Franny and Zooey"
Red Rover, Red Rover, send that kid---any kid but Carol---right over! Oh, the memories. Do you remember that game from school? Even then, as young as we were, we were being conditioned to try to fit in or be counted out, even if it was just a silly sport.
Me? I wasn't athletic type. I was a torn kid emotionally at those times---half of me praying my heart out that I wouldn't get chosen on a team because I knew I was lousy at games and the other half of me was sad because I didn't---and I mean never---got picked for the teams. Well, I take that back. I did get picked. Eventually. By whichever poor team was unlucky enough to be stuck with me. My only hope was to be outed before the game even got under way well.
And, hey, let me tell you. Nothing much has changed in life since those days of trembling in fear of being picked and then hating being picked because I knew, just knew I was going to suck at whatever game was being played.
But...but...why, why, why did I still pitifully have that deep, unspoken yearning to have someone pick me to be on their team? Why, even when I knew I could not perform, when I knew I'd end up running off the playground feeling all this kid-like failure, did I still long to hear my name? Red Rover, Red Rover, send CAROL right over.
Same reason any kid did and does. They want to be acknowledged. They want to be accepted. They want to be wanted by their peers. As much as many of us---yes, even me---snort that we don't care if we fit in, we don't care if we're popular, I think many of us really do, deep down, want to fit in. We want validation of belonging in whatever sector of life we've chosen.
And acknowledging that to myself is why the Salinger quote above has become one of my most cherished. Because it takes courage to not want or need to fit in. To not want to be somebody is not in most natures. It's sure not in mine.
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I've been seriously writing since 2009. I've been a published author since 2011. When I made up my mind to write with a goal of being published, I had big dreams. I had silly, unrealistic dreams. Dreams that my writing would be the ticket. Nothing else would really matter. My pen would be my strength. My writing would be so good it would just sell itself.
I can hear you laughing from here.
No, no, no. I don't mean I think my writing stinks. I do at least have that much confidence to believe in my craft, to think I've some talent inside me somewhere.
But if I ever walked though the doors of this writerly universe and thought talent alone was going to be enough, I was just about as left in the cold as the old Red Rover days.
I've had a hard knock comeuppance in this game. And, like those old days, I've found myself on the old playing field, realizing that fitting in just might be crucial. I once heard some writers called 'royalty', referring to their status as far as being popular. My heart sunk clean down to my feet to find myself back on the field where being 'able'----not as in just decent writing---but strong in personality was going to make a difference in anything.
I've yet to put my finger on how this all works. I do the Facebook thing. I enjoy Facebook, I think, and have an intimate circle of friends. Some I don't even know personally, but I feel comfortable with them and cherish their company.
But, still, I don't even feel I'm corresponding with these folks as an author but as a friend. So as far as promoting my work through Facebook friendships, I reckon I don't much.
I finally started such things as blog tours. Yes, blog tours. I know, I know, I swore that sort of thing off. I was never going to succumb to it, was I?
Whether that angle has even helped, I'm not sure. Has it made my name a household commodity? Oh, damn, hell, no.
This social community thing. I'm...just...not...good...at...it. I love posting photos. Yes, when it comes to sharing my passions, I'm an extrovert. On my little wall, in my little world.
The thought of going to a convention? Scary, like thinking of crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope. No, I'm not really afraid of crowds. But I do not, do not, do not feel I belong, that I fit in enough to attempt mingling. I mean, if I don't fit in on forums and other social venues...well, you see.
The bottom line is that I see, with horrific clarity, that to pitch me is a necessary part of this writer success thing. And it is so terrifying to me that I'm tempted to just go back to the old days when I just wrote and I didn't give a hoot or a holler if I sold a book or not. I just wrote because I adored writing and because I had something to say and I wanted someone---even if it was one damn person---read it.
I see something pitiful about myself, something that makes that urge to do a J. D. Salinger and disappear. And that is this: I'm lying if I tell you I do not want to fit in. Come on. Even in the book, Salinger only said he wished he didn't want to fit in. But he did. He did want to be somebody.
So do I. I really do. Ain't that sad? We all really kind of do. But we all are not cut out to be what we dream socially. Not as far as fitting in goes.
It does not mean, like I said, that I think my talent is not as good as the next fella. I believe in myself, my talent. I would never have submitted a story had I not believed in it.
And let me tell you. It is hard as gargling B-B's to sit here and admit to you that I wish I could be in the 'in' crowd. But I'll tell you something else. I'm sure not the only one. Many may not admit it, but more of us wish we could be royalty, too.
It's our nature. It just is. And there's not a damn thing wrong with the wanting of it. As long as it doesn't water down our writing.
But I also know my limitations. Always have and always will. And, knowing them intimately and knowing I'm not the kind to elbow my way into realms I'm not comfortable in, even if it means never fitting in.
I'll just keep writing. Because I do love it, I can't live without it. No matter where it takes me.
And I will know, with everything in me, that the 'not fitting in' will not have anything to do with my writing. It will not be because my writing wasn't good enough. Sometimes writing reminds me of this piano....
It just sits out in this foggy field, not being played. But, just because it's alone out there and it's not seen by as many, doesn't mean it doesn't have a beautiful song inside it to play. And it doesn't mean it doesn't long for someone to hear it. It does.
Michael Schofield (June 24, 1919 – March 27, 2014)
11 hours ago