The nicest gift came my way today.
I was fretting BIG time about a writing/editing assignment I've gotten myself into. First, I'm not all that sure that I want to be doing this one. The folks I'm working for/with are . . . let's just say a bit more, uh, "structured" than I'm used to. Second, I don't know the subject matter like these folks do which means I have to hunt the web and track down details that because of their tenure, they just spit out at me on phone conference calls as though they were going back and forth between two languages. And finally, I'm the "new kid" and I haven't been this unsure of myself in a very, very long time.
That's not to say in my non-new-kid role, I carry myself with the calm, confidence of an Ellen Goodman whom I picture smiling on her porch with laptop in . . . yes, there it is, her lap, rocking contentedly as she hammers out yet another thought-provoking comentary on politics, social injustice or her nephew's upcoming marriage. No, I'm more Murphy Brown. And I'm not talking about the fact that the character was supposed to be an award-winning journalist! Have you caught the re-runs of this lately? I once loved that show but to watch the I'll-need-to-read-those-lines-off-the-cue-card acting that went on is almost painful now. And frankly, that girl was a whiner!!! She was constantly lamenting about something, wringing her hands about an upcoming yet-to-be-scheduled interview or a bad interview or a political crisis that she was personally going to have to solve.
I connect with the hand wringing. (God, help me, if everyone else thought it was because I'm a whiner!) I pray I don't whine but I do worry . . . a lot.
I worry that my ideas aren't strong enough. I worry that someone is going to call me out for the lack of experience I've been hiding all these lo 20 years I've been doing this! I worry that all the compliments I get on my work come from friends who love me and who'd support me if I told them I was going to don a red sequin dress, climb aboard the top of a Baby Grand and start belting out love songs for a living. I worry that even if my ideas are better than my new supervisor's I won't have the guts to stand up for what I think is best.
As a result, I sweat. And I've been doing so for the last 3.5 hours as I've worked on this project.
So . . . you know what the gift was?
Just before I began the project, I opened my email. I had sat at my computer with fear and almost trembling. So I was delighted to see a familar name in my in-box. There I found a note -- only a couple of lines --from a dear friend who I respect and admire more than I can possibly capture in a sentence or two. Unknowingly, he had come to my rescue. These two lines -- about something totally unrelated to the project -- told me I had it in me. "It" being whatever it takes to call myself a writer.
The neat thing was he was commenting on something I'd done several days ago and that I assumed was now buried. And, it was probably the LAST thing I would have imagined he might have read.
And that was the gift. I realized that I just needed to trust . . . myself, the process, the writing.
The project's birth is now complete. I've sent it off for comments. And you know what? I'm not sweating anymore.