Saturday, August 8, 2009


Performance Anxiety?

I’ve observed the parallels between writing and painting. For me, it seems the processes are darn near identical. But now I am feeling the secondary ripple of similarity and I don’t like it. 

I remain humble in my writing accomplishments, and probably will until I see my name on a bestseller list. But here I sit with two books pending release, and I am terrified to write another word. Holy cow, is that like the torments of a visual artist? Yes. 

I remember a landscape I painted – it hangs in my sister’s hall. Everything worked in that painting. The lighting, the textures, the mood, my technique. I received a tiny bit of acclaim (local – all local, perhaps so local as to be largely in my head…) but I couldn’t paint anything for months after that. And it’s not like I didn’t pick up the brushes. I made valiant attempts. But everything looked drab and lacking. 

Now I sit with my computer on my lap and pound out pages. The words reread like the ramblings of an idiot. Or they sound technical, like someone afraid to dig deep. 

Here’s another parallel. When I was in junior high I tried vaulting. Ya know, like in gymnastics? I ran and pounced and flew over the horse like a champ. I was good. The next day in school, everyone high-fived me and the hallway talk was all about the new fabulous vaulter. 

You guessed it. The next gymnastics practice I sucked. Couldn’t vault to save my life. 

Is there a pill for this? Is this classic performance anxiety? Clearly I am prone to it – whatever it is. Help!