"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Teaching life lessons

In a few short weeks, I'll be teaching a workshop or two at the Southern California Writer's Conference. The schedule is still shaking out, so I'm not certain what else I'll be yammering on about, but one of my workshops is a new one for me, one that I hope will be both fun and informative. It's called "Storytelling is Murder, She Wrote," and we're going to take an episode of a TV mystery series and dissect it, looking for the kind of structure we use in our writing.

With each conference (I do two a year), Michael the director calls or emails me and solicits workshop proposals. And for each conference, I search my brain cells, looking for ideas and thinking, who am I to teach these people anything?

I spend the first part of my brainstorming session proving my credentials - to me. I've been writing for publication since 2000, I've had my weekly column since 2005, I've published six books and will soon have the seventh out on the market. And through all of it, I have strived to learn more about what I'm doing and do it better next time.

Still, I have that malady described most perfectly by the Divine Miss M in her book "A View from a Broad" where she states:

I'm always afraid Miss Burke (Bette's former hula teacher) will suddenly appear, and picking me up by the back of the neck like some great tabby, announce to one and all, "This hussy is a fraud!"

BTDubs, I am an ardent admirer of Bette Midler and have used her book many times for inspiration as to how to relax a little and stop giving such a rat's tokhes about everyone else's opinion.

While I was fertilizing my own little ego, I got into a discussion with my son (via Facebook messaging, which is where most of our conversations occur these days). He was longing for a post-college goal, a dream he could aim for. I suggested looking at what his now-graduated colleagues were doing, to kick-start ideas.

Then he told me, "I really liked what *local band* is doing, but I'm not sure if I'm good enough to gather the level of musicians they did and write music that cool. And I keep toying with the idea of a an educational YouTube channel all about music, but I don't feel nearly smart enough or confident enough to teach people on the internet."

See a common theme here?

How do I impart to my son to go forward with confidence, if I constantly question my own knowledge and skill set? Do I tell him it comes with the territory, creatively-speaking? Do I tell him to "fake it until you make it"? I could inform him that he is brilliant and creative and knows more about music than most people, but I know from my own experience that until he feels it on the inside, it won't help to pump it in from the outside.

Or will it?

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