Monday, April 4, 2011

Performance Anxiety

So, there are a number of reasons why my Mom has not read the book. #1 is that she read my sister-in-law's book and called it "Kind of Baby-sitter's Club." #2 is that my characters aren't Mormon or even good church-goers, by and large and there are the occasional uses of "What the hell?" and "DAMN!"

#3 is illustrated by this last weekend. I have a piano recital, in which I'm playing the aforementioned Pathetique. Last week, I developed major performance anxiety and am now having a lot of freakouts about the recital. This has happened to me with things like my first major solo, in Vivaldi's Gloria, and before I had to audition for the New England Conservatory Youth Repertory Orchestra. Some times, it's a lot worse than others. This is one of those times. So, my Mom, who has been touring and giving lectures on how to overcome performance anxiety, offered to help. So I played her my recital program. She then went on to point out the lack of musicality, how excruciating it looked for me to play it, how my hands were wrong for the piece, how 90% of the pianists she's known have never been able to tackle this piece, that I should know better than to let it be massacred like that. I have higher musical standards than this. I am playing it "by hook and crook" and irreparably damaging my technique.

Remember how I said that my characters say "What the hell?" and "Damn"? If I were fictional and controlled by someone other than me, I would have used those things. Instead, I spent 20 minutes crying at my Mom's grand piano. She felt so bad for terrorizing me about it that she hemmed my jeans, ran a hot bath and gave me a ride home. But she thinks I should have never started it in the first place.

So, then I think about the day that I hand her a copy of my book. She talks me through not being nervous about her reaction and then tells me that there's no grace to the prose, that I have higher literary standards, that I'm irreparably damaging my own writing style and should never have started it in the first place.

SHe's asked me before why she hasn't gotten to read it. I politely tell her that if she thinks my sister-in-law's book is Baby-Sitter's Club, I'd rather not hear her opinion for several more drafts. It's the kind thing to say.

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