You would think this is bugging me like crazy, right? Especially since I like peace and quiet and startle easily. But actually, the new drummer with his cacophony of ill-timed crashing cymbals, the mangled thrash of the snare, the awkward trip up of the foot pedal hitting the bass, isn’t bothering me at all. Not in the least. Even as I sit here in the stillness of my office with a case of writer’s block, it actually makes me smile. Why? Well, because I think it’s pretty awesome that he’s doing his thing despite the fact that it means everyone is now very aware of just how bad he is.
When I first started writing, there was no waaaaay I was going to let anyone see the dribbly stuff I’d written. I mean, I don’t know what happened to that collection of angst-ridden poetry I wrote in high school, but even the memory of it makes me cringe (you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about). Could you imagine blowing up one of your first works and posting it on an oversized sign on your front lawn for everyone to see—for people to drive by and laugh at, to say as they roll their eyes, great…guess somebody’s taken up writing? I don’t think so.
But drummers? They have no choice. If they want to be good, they have to practice; if they practice, chances are that somebody (if not the whole neighborhood) is going to hear it. So they have to put themselves out there, they have to be vulnerable, they have to deal with the smirks and snickers if they want to be the next Tommy Lee.
And that’s not so different from writing. Okay, so maybe we’re spared the whole public humiliation aspect of it (but not really—we’ll get to this in a minute), but still, at some point you have to decide I’m going to let others read this. I’m going to put it out there. I’m going to take the criticism and learn from it. And then…I’m going to send it to agents.
Which brings us to…the whole being spared public humiliation. Let’s face it, writers tend to be an insecure bunch. So sending your manuscript to agents can be pretty anxiety inducing. I mean, here are the people who basically decide if your book will ever cross the desk of an editor . So of course you wonder what will the agent think? Will she laugh, think I wasted her time, hit delete after the first sentence, take it to conferences to show others what not to do? These questions can push you to polish your work, but they can also eventually get in the way. For example, maybe you just put off sending your work anywhere because the idea of a harsh critic reading it, possibly snickering or rolling his eyes, and most likely sending you the first of many form rejections is just too much to bear. I hear ya, but here’s the thing—if you don’t send it, then what? So your feelings are spared, but now you’ve written something that’s doomed to hang out in your computer forever and that, well, that just plain old sucks.
So, here’s what you do. Start banging those drums, and I mean really banging, no matter how hard it is and despite the possible (and more likely, completely imaginary) ridicule you may encounter. Unless you put yourself out there, then nothing is going to happen and you might just end up with a really kick-ass set of drums that no one gets to hear.
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