"My god, you are ballsy!" she laughed.
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
But I wasn't always. I've talked many, many (manymanymany) times about how my fears held me back. Or rather, how I let my fears hold me back. But even in my seclusiveness, I had moments of letting that all out—especially if I was comfortable with my surroundings. Hanging out with my friends, I could always be loud and bawdy and brash. It just wasn't always apparent to the general public.
The biggest apprehension, for me, about being so open and sometimes brazen is that what I do will be bad. Take my writing for example. It's easy for me to hide behind my words. I can use them like a big, decorative shield—to either protect myself or to distract the other person from the underlying emotion. I can spin the words lovingly into some never-before-read combination, but that doesn't mean it's good.
That's the fear I'm facing with Persona Non Grata.
I admitted online a couple of days ago that I'm afraid it's really bad and that no one's had the heart to tell me.
"I would find a way to very gently tell you, if I thought it was terrible," Tiff assured me. "It's not. It's good."
She's pretty exacting and finicky, though she's also been my BFF for a really long time. She's not afraid to tell me when something I'm wearing is bad ("That dress is doing you no favors. Toss it."); why would I think she would let me spend a year working on something so difficult and personally poignant, just because she didn't have the heart to tell me it sucked?
Some of the inner circle readers have been only gushing. (I totally love the ego boost from that, by the way.) Some have been more politely critical about specific aspects and issues that really did need to be addressed. And my editor has been incomparably patient and honest in her critiques.
But there's still this chance that it gets out there and everyone thinks it's bad.
There will be people who don't like it because it's not their style of story. There will be people who don't like because they don't like me. (Suck it.) There will be people who don't like it because they don't like anything. (You have met the internet, right?)
My hope is that there will be people who like it so much that they recommend it to their friends. Or they go on Amazon (when it's available) and leave a nice review. Or they just send me a message to say they loved it.
But what I hope, more than anything, is that someone who doesn't know me says it's good.
For a long time, I could write what was in my heart and head but not actually say the words. My spoken voice didn't usually flow as easily as my typed voice. That's not so much the case now.
"I can always tell when you're writing," Mo said one afternoon on the telephone. "Your vocabulary gets huge."
Something about the process of spinning the big words make
me even more willing to say exactly
what I'm thinking and feeling and to ask for what I want. I'm more likely to be that direct, loud,
ballsy girl, knowing full well that there are some people who just won't like
it. It's just part of my muchness.
But I also know that the real good is in having learned how to do that, how not to let my fear stop me from stepping out from behind that golden, glittery shield. When those words are spoken in confident candor, I have the victory, regardless of what anyone else thinks.