Waiting For Godot
After working mainly from my home office for the last almost 12 years, I now work at an office two days a week, and not only is it to help with my clinical hours towards my license to become a psychotherapist, but it also has been a nice respite from my life as a writer. Those of you who have read previous posts know that I’ve been going through a major shift/change/artistic crisis of sorts, and so this change of scenery is quite welcome and needed for me. I work there to replace all the endless hours of staring at my screen waiting for inspiration, waiting for my agent to tell me “sold!”, waiting for a contest to say “Yes!”, waiting for goddam Godot!
But in my Gemini, dual-nature, I shed my writer-self to be my therapist-self with some ambivalence. Part of me wants to scream to the entire building of three offices of co-workers, “Dammit! I write and I’m pretty good and you should buy my books for yourself, your friends, your family, hell, anyone you know!”
And so, I did confess to someone in the office that I am, in fact, a writer and then a little later, when asked the routinely-asked question all writers get from non-writers, have you been published? I responded with, yes, I do, in fact, have things published. Then, upon an office wide Google search, I was discovered, found out—I have a secret, double-life as published, YA author.
When one of my colleagues asked where he could buy a copy of my books, at first I insisted that he shouldn’t…then I confessed that Amazon carries all of them…then, because I felt worried (insecure) that if he bought them and hated them, he’d resent the money he’d spent, I gave him all three books before he could hit the buy button on Amazon.
So the following day, after I gave all three of my books (that have been published) to the particular colleague, who is a gentleman older than my father and who I respect very much as a doctor and therapist, I felt that stomach-dropping sensation one gets when getting a case of the Oh-Nos.
As I handed them over, I told my pounding heart to chill, but it was too late; the assault began.
He’s going to hate them.
He’s going to think I’m a terrible writer.
He’s reading them to be nice.
This is a terrible idea.
This is a disaster.
He’s are going to think, thank God she’s going into psychotherapy because this stuff sucks.
In the days that followed, the older gentleman colleague showered me with compliments. “Great writing! Great metaphors! Great stuff! I can picture teachers reading this with their students!”
Then one day he came in and announced that he had finished the book and he wondered what I thought of the idea that maybe my book was a little dated. You know, because coming out isn’t a big deal any more, right? He went on about this, but I pretty much went somewhere else, not physically, but mentally; I continued to stand there, leaning against the cabinet that contained all of our CBT worksheets and therapy note sheets while my spirit went somewhere else, somewhere vague and cloudy. Somewhere dark.
When I returned to my body, he was going on about “Cynical? Is that the word? Cynical. Your voice in the book is very cynical…”
I left again, feeling stripped of any label that would be associated with writer, author, hell, human.
When I returned again, he was still going on, this time about the portrayal of the shrink, Josephine, in the story, “And that Josephine! She was one-dimensional. I mean everything she said was so trite…”
I don’t remember what I said back, but whatever it was, it wasn’t the truth of what I was feeling or thinking. The truth was this:
Do you have any idea how hard it is to not only write a book, but also to then share it with the world?
Eventually I went back to my office, but before I did, he reeled in another colleague, and repeated every single piece of feedback to her, finishing with an ironic, “You really should read this book.”
And she said some things back, most of which bounced off my somewhat numb self. One thing stuck: “Oh no. Coming out is definitely still a big deal.” Then she threw empathetic eyes at me, and I smiled back…with great effort.
That was not even a week ago and with each passing day, his words echo and echo through my brain, his words touch a deeper part of my mind where things can accumulate unless I properly take them out, look at them, and accept them for what they are and what they are not.
After falling into and coming out of the deepest depression of my life last year, I know that when the darkness comes, it’s a sign that something within me is off. Something within me is looking at the situation, which has triggered the darkness, with some distortion, but that there is also some value in what I am feeling.
When I take step back and use my logic mind, I can see that my colleague wasn’t trying to hurt me, wasn’t intending to send me into a deep dark depression. And, yes the critique wasn’t the most positive about my work…but he did say I was a good writer and he was enthusiastic about the books, enough to share them with people. Besides, I’ve been critiqued before, had worse things said about my writing, so why did his words sting so badly?
Because the words pricked at the insecurity within me about these particular books. I know that I wrote them a long time ago. I know the stories aren’t the most profound or deep or even the best that I can do now. And I’m frustrated that the work I know is that is better, deeper, stronger is stuck in my computer, not shared with the world.
My frustration isn’t with my dear colleague but with the situation—with the reality that I’m still waiting for Godot.
In the meantime, check out the books my colleague