Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are You Lip Syncing Or Living Out Loud?

I learned how to lip sync in grade school. It started the day of tryouts for Glee Club. I wanted nothing more than to be in the Glee Club. Our teacher lined us  up in size place order along the side of the room next to the closets and had us sing The Star Spangled Banner. She walked up and down that line listening to our young voices. I was the first one who was picked to go to the back of the room.

I was elated! She had chosen me right away! I was that good! I was in Glee Club!
Or so I thought.

It turned out I was sent to the back of the room because I had not made the cut. Worse, I was the first one out. I was an eleven year old kid who until then  believed she could do anything she wanted. I already understood fear. I knew the things I couldn't do because I was afraid to. But not do something I wanted to? Because I wasn't good enough? That was new territory.

I learned that day I had a tragic flaw.  I couldn't carry a tune.  It was that simple.

I didn't know how else to handle it so I learned to hide  my imperfection.  I learned to lip sync.  The only place I allowed my singing voice to ring loud and clear was when I was by myself. In the shower drowned out by the water. Later in my car with the radio blasting.   But never in the presence of someone who would learn my dirty secret. It wouldn't be the last time I turned down the volume on a part of me that I had decided wasn't good enough, but it is the first I remember.

Last Tuesday I sealed my manuscript.  My agent and I have agreed there is nothing else it needs except the perfect editor to buy it. I  immediately felt nauseous.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered Glee Club. I remembered  the crushing blow of believing I was good at something only to find out I was not.  I had learned then to lip sync whatever part of me I didn't think was good enough. I got so good at lip syncing that sometimes I just moved my lips when it came to the stuff I knew I was good at.  I kept my writing at lip sync decibles most of my adult life because somewhere along the line someone had engraved in my brain that it was impossible to make a living as a writer. That success was for someone else, not me.

But then I remembered that the same school that told me I couldn't sing, also published my very first story in The Castlewood Times.  The nausea passed momentarily.

Today I picked up a hard copy of my manuscript I had printed out at Staples. I want something concrete to hold on to as my agent begins to shop my story.  I'm hoping that helps with the queasiness. I understand nausea is a frequent visitor when you're living out loud.
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