Sunday, 16 March 2008

Not on writing, but on confidence.

With there being very little time between the job, dissertation research, and keeping up with life in general, my reading of normal books (as opposed to, say, research or work books) has been reduced to a minimum that wasn’t even this bad when I was still at university studying English literature. (To say nothing of writing.)

I made an effort this last week, after I sent in my unofficial dissertation proposal, to finish some books I have lying around half-read. I started Lauren Bacall’s By Myself and Then Some because it was for sale at the book fair, and I thought it would be fun to read considering the Bogie-factor. I loved it, I think. Not absolutely and all-overpoweringly, but I’d recommend it.

I was particularly struck by this, somewhere on the final pages:

I guess a true sense of self-confidence is not in the cards for me. At least in certain special situations. It’s a different kind of nervousness – not like opening night in the theatre. I think it’s reverting subconsciously to my first dreams of becoming an actress – of being so star-struck. After watching for so many years Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Vivien Leigh, Gielgud, Guinness and more – to find myself meeting them – being accepted by them as one of them, no less – was quite unbelievable to me. And upon working with any of them – at the beginning I became eight years old.
(page 461 in my Headline paperback)

I think I get where she’s coming from. I tend to get nervous around people I admire, as if somehow I could let it slip I’m actually not the person who they think I am, or I can’t do what they believe I can. It’s absolute nonsense, most of the time anyway, but the brain conspires against you like that sometimes.

I had that with writing only in the beginning. I didn’t admit to anyone I wrote except close friends and family, as if somehow that could jinx it. That went away, and it’s one of the few things I can be grateful to fanfiction for. It gave me enough confidence in my writing to admit to actually doing it. It’s like that anonymous quote: “Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

Which hopefully means I’ll stop being an idiot about dissertation meetings at some point.

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