Last night I watched the oldest Junior Hall perform at an Open Mic night. He’d played before but this was the first time that the Beneficent Mr. Hall and I had been allowed to come watch (which is kind of funny because the Beneficent Mr. Hall paid for the first guitar that started Junior on his road to guitar playingdom–EIGHT years ago).
Naturally, we thought he was brilliant. But he was sorely disappointed in his playing…he’d been nervous and didn’t play that well, he thought. Whereas I thought how hard it is to get up in front of a bunch of people and sing your own lyrics and play your own music and was totally impressed that he could stand up there and bare his heart and soul.
Listening to him berate his efforts sounded a lot like…me. And lots of writers I know. No matter how well we write, we’re still insecure about the words on the pages we’ve written. No matter how often we’re published, we still look at our published pieces and wished we’d said this (scathingly brilliant sentence) instead of that (string of stinky crap).
After a bit (and a parental pep talk and a couple folks who said they liked his voice), Junior Hall was ready to go. The performers are given a CD of their 15 minutes of fame, and he was sounding more hopeful. He said he’d listen and take notes on what needed work– and that he’d be back the next week to try again. And when the Beneficent Mr. Hall and I got in the car to leave, I thought of…yep, me and lots of writers I know and how important it is to have a critique group–or a trusted someone or two to share our work with, maybe get a pep talk. Because that’s what we need as well when we’re not feeling good about our written words. Then we can take notes and try again.
Should John Mayer be worried about Junior Hall? Not yet. But I wouldn’t count that kid out completely–he’s pretty determined, and downright inspiring. So of course, I’m thinking about me again. I’ve got lots of notes to look at before I face the manuscript–and try again.