The Strangeness of Putting My Work Out There

Little-known fact: when I was a kid, I played the trumpet.  Badly.  I suspect that most of my schoolmates won’t have any memory of me playing it at all.  I was in the orchestra, but I always contrived to blend in with the rest of the brass section.  If my mistakes were heard at all, at least the audiences weren’t able to pin them on me.  Music lovers will be glad to hear that I haven’t touched an instrument since 1991.

I bring this up now to illustrate the kind of person I’ve always been when it came to creative endeavors.  I was never, ever going to be the guy that stood up and asked the conductor to give me a solo.  I wasn’t gonna sing.  Or dance.  Or draw.  Or paint.  Or try out for the school play… you get the idea.  I was afraid to try anything that I might mess up…

The notable exception to this came in the realm of sports.  I can’t realy explain why that was the case, because it’s not like I was a world-beating athelete.  I would describe myself as solidly “competent” at most of the usual sports.  I could catch and throw and run without tripping over myself, I guess, but I never had that spark that you can see in really talented players.  I had some good moments here and there, and my share of failures, too.

For some reason, though, I was never afraid of looking bad when I played sports.  The idea of striking out in front of my teammates never fazed me  in the way that the prospect of getting up on stage and being in a play, or giving a speech, or anything like that, always had. I suppose that we all have our comfort zones, for whatever reasons.

I’m obviously thinking about this kind of stuff because something in my make-up has changed.  I wrote a book, splashed my name in big letters across the cover and asked everyone to check it out.  Given the way I’ve seen myself in the past, that seems like a pretty massive departure for me.  I suppose it’s as simple as saying that I finally got comfortable enough with that aspect of my personaility to put it out there without worrying about falling on my face (I mean, I know that I might fall on my face, and I worry about it, but I can live with the risk).

It took me forty years to get here.  I’m not sure whether I should be bummed that it took so long, or just happy that I managed it at all.  A little of both, probably, but mostly the latter, I think.  And who knows?  By the time I’m fifty, maybe I’ll try to start a rock band…

4 responses to “The Strangeness of Putting My Work Out There”

  1. Congratulations, Bob! It’s a terrific step forward. I just saw your wife’s post on the UM Alumni Facebook page and wanted to stop by and wish you luck. My first novel was released this week as well – it’s definitely an exciting feeling, and I know what you mean about the risk-worry-reward bit. It’s better to have at least tried then to not have tried at all.

    Good luck with your endeavor as an author and keep on writing – Peripheral Involvement sounds great!

  2. Thanks, Michael! Congratulations to you, too! I was just looking at Convergence on Amazon and it looks great! Good luck with it!

  3. When my first draft arrived, I was so excited that I stopped by a sister-in-laws to show her. I was already in the habit of saying,”If you don’t like the story, you have to love the illustrations,” and repeated it to her and another distant relative that was visiting. That other relative took about 11 seconds to look at it and handed it back without a word! I had an artist do the illustrations and anyone who has since seen the book will agree that the illustrations are fabulous. So, when the book was handed back without a word, I was really shocked and perhaps wounded and went home deflated. That night, I spoke to my wise son who said, When you put yourself out there, you have to be ready for anything.” If I keep that in mind, I have no worries. Sounds like you really don’t either. Congratulations on putting it out there.