I’m taking a Creative Writing course this semester. I can’t decide whether I love or hate the class. On the one hand, I love writing more than anything else. I can’t think of another activity that makes me as happy as writing. On the other hand… I’ve had a panic-induced stomach ache for the past seven weeks.* The entire concept of creative writing classes is horrifying. You create something, you love it, you build it and work really hard to make it as good as it can be. Then, you throw it into a pool of sharks who just can’t wait to tear it apart. …ugh.
I love creating. I hate sharing. This is why I can show up to all of my classes for an entire semester, receive A grades on every assignment and still have to beg for an A- not a B+ in the course. Those participation points. They’re killing me. I don’t have a fear of public speaking. I’m fine talking to strangers or groups of strangers. It does not bother me in the least. Unless I’m presenting my work. I was always really good at theatre; I loved acting. It’s easy to memorize words written by someone else. Sure, I can make the character my own, but ultimately, if it’s not received well… I can totally get away with blaming someone else. Blame the playwright! It isn’t my fault.
When it’s time to volunteer in class, I have an intense/visceral/Fight or Flight reaction. I completely panic, lose my voice, get really hot, etc. It’s ridiculous. Most of the time, I even want to share, if only because I know it would be good for me… but I just can’t do it. I can’t raise my hand or open my mouth. I can’t give away the things I create because, what if, what if, what if. What if you hated it? What if you hated me? I want you to like me and my work.
Often, my what-if fears start encroaching on the quality of my work. I become so obsessed with being The Best that my writing takes a total nosedive. I stress out so much that I start writing absolute nonsense. It’s reached a point where my best work is created an hour before it’s due. I used to be one of those Type A nutcases who completes their assignments weeks in advance. Now, I almost always finish (and, um, start) my homework the morning its due. Not because I’m lazy and terrible, but because it’s only when I have no time, no choice but to get it done, that I can silence my inner editor. And that’s when I produce good, A+ papers and stories. I don’t understand when this happened, but I’ve taken this bizarre turn and the more I try, the worse my product is.
I really am my own worst enemy.
I hate vulnerability.
What are some things you’re struggling with? Do you like sharing? How do you deal with feeling vulnerable?
*I’ve been sick all semester. I’ve felt terrible, been abnormally tired and have suffered from a general malaise. I thought this was due solely to my school stress. While my self-induced stress party has probably been affecting my health… it turns out I had a broken water heater that was leaking carbon monoxide into my house for five weeks. I have a “functioning” CO detector right next to the water heater, but no matter what my rental company says, my acute carbon monoxide poisoning indicates that it was most certainly malfunctioning. Hmph. I’m feeling better now that my house isn’t filling with dangerous levels of poisonous gasses. …I still get a Terror Tummy Ache when I walk into Creative Writing. My life is a mess.