I should be sleeping right now. But I am not.
The husband got up early today (5:15 a.m.) to get the kid ready for school. I should be sleeping in when it's his turn, but here I sit in front of the computer. Even with a migraine (I took Excedrin) and no tea or vittles I still feel compelled to expunge what has been weighing on my mind for the past week. You see, it is in my best interest to do this.
It has been a week since NANOWRIMO began and I started my challenge. I completed two chapters of my novel so far. But, then I stopped. I haven't been able to write since last Thursday. You see, I made a mistake. A huge mistake.
On the evening of day one when I finished my first chapter I was so excited to share it with the people close to me. The folks I love and trust. I shared it with my son, as I usually share my writing accomplishments. His reaction was genuine and filled with encouragement. I then chose to show it to my other biggest supporter, my mother. But, before I did that I showed it to my Aunt; big mistake.
My Aunt had been visiting for a couple of weeks and she was there, in the same room. I should have went with my first instinct and waited until she left town. (By the way, I totally dislike 'should haves'). But, I was so proud of myself that I actually sat down and began writing and taking my participation in NANWRIMO seriously this year. Here comes another should have...I should have realized that based on my Aunt's reaction (or lack thereof) to all my previously composed essays and poems that sharing this important, pivotal piece may leave me unsatisfied (again). I learned a hard lesson, never ignore your instinct, damn it!
During my Aunt's visit I thought it would be a great idea to catch her up on all my blog posts and what I've been going through and feeling the past year or more. I feel like my writing has been a therapeutic vehicle for me and helped me release the negativity of my past and propelled me to move on and concentrate on the positive in my life. I thought my Aunt would get a better understanding (and appreciation) for why I am the way I am and almost forgive me for my shortcomings. Way too much to expect I finally realize.
After keeping my blue binder of writings for a couple of days and while handing it back to me the most she said was, "I liked your piece on Pepa." That was it. Not, "Hey, you're a pretty good writer" (I would have settled for even that); not even "Now I understand you a little better". Just nothing. No feedback good or bad. I would even have settled for 'bad' feedback. Just something, damn it. But, all I got was nothing. I came to realize that my Aunt is a lousy communicator. She will never tell you how she really feels. She will never tell you what she thinks. Instead, she'll just make a comment on the weather. Neutral and safe.
After day one I was really excited about my progress. I had actually spent time exploring the depths of my soul and divulging my childhood experiences. I was proud at how well I captured a pivotal point in my life. I wanted to share it with the people I love. I decided to give her a second chance. To see if maybe this piece of writing would trigger some emotion. To see if it would warrant a measurable comment. The only thing I got was, "Why are you writing about dead people?!" Are you kidding me? She just doesn't get it. At that point I realized my Aunt is not worthy of sharing my work. I will not get the support I need. There is no encouragement to be found in that lot. That lot is vacant. Such a huge disappointment!
The next day I emailed my mother to explain my frustration with the response I received the previous evening. Luckily for me, she explained her reaction and made me feel that the fact that I hit a nerve with my mother and captured the details accurately was incentive enough for me to proceed. Wisely, she offered that I should forget involving my Aunt in my initial audience of first-draft critics. This was enough salve on my wound to move on and on day two I was able to produce chapter two.
But, as in most things that bother me, my Aunt's reaction (or lack thereof) festered in my brain for the next couple of days until this morning. This morning I realized that in order for me to get back to the task at hand (participating in NANWRIMO) I must purge my disappointment and sadness about my unfulfilled expectations about my Aunt. I think I just hit the tip of the iceberg but I've chipped away at it enough for me to begin chapter three. No doubt, there will be more blog posts about my Aunt in the future. I just don't see how I can justify the time spent on her right now when I have better things to do, like write.
If I am not worthy of constructive criticism then she is not worthy of me putting my dreams on hold and pouting about how disappointed I am. I must get over it and move on. Forget her.
Things I have learned from this recent experience:
1. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
2. The only opinion that matters is your own.
3. Having expectations sometimes lead to disappointment.
4. Don't ask unless you are willing to hear the truth.
5. Unconditional love comes from those closest to you.
6. Your most trusted and honest critic is yourself.
7. Don't ignore your intuition; it is usually correct.
8. Family can be disappointing.
9. Not everyone will be your cheerleader.
10.In the end, the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.
Now that I have purged my system of what has been bugging me I am free to continue my journey.
And, I shall wish myself, "Good Luck!"