I said I was going to be a bit more personal and this has been echoing inside me for weeks, so I thought to begin that proper journey of GTDB (getting the damn book done), I had to post it and clear my head:
The first day of band camp. Summer. My first year of high school and here I am with a flute that’s foreign to me, and two left feet. The room is full of people I’ve never met before. This room, I’ve never seen it before with its many chairs and kids. It’s abuzz with activity. I know not a soul in this room of over 50 students. I can’t tell an A flat from a B sharp.
I do not belong here, this is the only thought going through my head. I do not belong here.
This is the stuff YA novels are made of.
My parents decided in high school that it would be great for me to do an activity. We opted for band. I hadn’t displayed any talent for music. I had no idea how to read music. I didn’t know how to march.
I was going to a school outside my middle school district. Most of the people that were coming to my H.S. had gone to the other middle school. They all knew each other. Also their band instructor was the H.S’ band instructor’s wife. It was a big reunion for most of them. Even the new kids to the band and sections knew something about their instrument.
They all knew how to read music. And march. Hold their instrument. Pause. Breathe properly. Trill. Adagio. Allegro. Coda. Seriously, music is another language.
I had some lessons. The rest I taught myself.
Band camp in the middle of Florida. You can imagine. 90′s, 80′s, 70′s if we were lucky. Days spent in a hot parking lot memorizing color dots and where to go from here, while holding my instrument, trying to figure out the notes. Nights spent fumbling through music in the cool of the band room.
If you were to go on that field in 1996, the same field the driver’s ed classes used for practice drives in the school day, you’d think my name was Left. Because my band director is hollering my name and “left!” – because my feetwork is all wrong – from a tall wooden tower used for the adjacent football field. Over and over, it’s as steady as a metronome.
I don’t belong here.
I fumble through band freshman to senior year, then I eventually quit. I never really quite fit in. I put on the uniform, but it doesn’t fit. I stumble through the routines. I practice for hours and get to where I can eventually play something worth while.
What does this have to do with writing?
I have always felt just on the outside. I felt it when doing plays in school and classes. Whether in school or at work or even in blogging, I have. And that fear of not being able to make it “in” or feel like I once again didn’t belong in this particular hobby…that’s held me back. But as I’ve stated before, not even more.
I have a YA WiP. It has been around since 2006 and it’s STILL not done. Because I hem and haw and if I don’t try, I don’t fail. I don’t have that moment of “well, I didn’t do that right either.” I mean, it’s not to say that I don’t believe I haven’t accomplished things. I have a great job, two degrees and I can name countless plots of the Baby-Sitters Club and quote SNL sketches for days. On some days, I’m kind of awesome.
Yeah, screw that. I’m finishing it THIS YEAR. Why? Because I could only go so long re-writing the first chapter over and over. And having seven pages worth of notes in my phone.
I went to a SCBWI meeting and read my query and my first chapter. And people – authors – liked it. Somebody liked what I did. Now I’ve shown work to people before online but never a published author. It was a major step in my journey.
I’m SO lucky. I have parents who support me in writing. I have a partner who swears up and down I’m meant to be an author. Who says everyday “why don’t you write?” Some people have family and friends and partners who think writing is “just a hobby that won’t do anything.” Some people try and try and get the no and try more. I need to be like those people.
Because even if I don’t get published for two, five, seven, six, twenty years, I won’t be alone.
There’s a world of unpublished authors out there. On the outside.