Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Music and Me

Just saw an interview with Barbra Streisand, where she was asked to explain a statement she once made years ago -- about "not liking singing all that much." Barbra Streisand? Doesn't like singing? Really??

When she had a chance to clarify, she said (I'm paraphrasing, here): "I love singing when it's just about the music and me. When I'm by myself, or recording, and it's just me with the notes, I LOVE it. But when an audience is involved, or when I know people have paid money to see me, that they're judging my performance - then suddenly, I'm aware of someone else in the room, and there's this pressure that takes away a little of the joy."

Just this past week, when I was telling my Creative Writing students about everything - my rewrites, having an agent, getting my novel "out there," then getting a rejection (and yes, a fair amount of criticism in that rejection), I said virtually the same thing about writing -- that I occasionally miss that time in my life when it was just about me and the writing. When nobody really cared what I wrote. Nobody looked over my shoulder, or judged it or critiqued it or offered changes. When there wasn't pressure to be "the best," to perform, to make people want to spend money on my work.

Even a teacher friend of mine told me today, as she was preparing some of her writing handouts to be bound (and eventually purchased by students) -- that when she sent them off to be duplicated, she felt an odd sensation of her "babies" being more "public," out of her hands, somehow. And again, I could very much relate to that feeling, with my writing.

I've also read blogs by published authors who say the same thing -- that it's not all "sunshine and roses," this publication process. And that, yes, they sometimes envy the writers who don't yet have agents, because their work is fully theirs at that time. And back then, whenever I read those blogs, I'd sort of roll my eyes a little and think, "Yeah, right. You lucky son-of-a-gun. You have an agent. I don't. Quit whining." lol But now, I think I know what they were saying. Just a little bit.

I hope no one mistakes this honest post for regret or ingratitude, or even whining. I'm incredibly blessed to have made it even this far, to have an agent I believe in, and who believes in my work. I'm still pinching myself. No regrets whatsoever. But when I heard Barbra Streisand say that, about "the music and me," I could relate on a small level.

Because once you put yourself "out there," once you put your writing out for public consumption, it does change your view of writing. Just a little. I guess it's the sacrifice that comes with publication (or, at least, trying to get published) -- the price you pay for wanting others to see your work. That it's not fully "yours" anymore. You're sharing it now. And if you want to get published, I guess you have to make peace with that...

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