Standing with a detectable wobble, knees buckled atop the high diving board. Does the pool below appear a warm, welcoming bath?
Then I consider all the spouting mantras that land to my inbox daily, or the spines vertically wedged together across Waterstone’s bookshelves, all of these messages that I should face my internal gnawing fear of leaping forward into a metaphorical abyss and do it anyway. Or perhaps it’s not so metaphorical.
The launch. The leap forward. That’s what this here online platform is inciting: the total dismantle of stone walls that keep me and my writing safe, where I am the only ticket-holder to the Em Kelly show.
Going public feels akin to being stripped down and standing on that lofty diving board for all to scrutinise the parts I want to remain hidden. My knees are quaking whilst all you fine folk are snuggling down in the cheap seats, nibbling popcorn and whispering to each other: ‘Is she going to do it? Will she jump?’
Then my mind shifts to the other mantras and advice:
Write what you know. That’s the saying, right? So this afternoon, I am writing about the fear of taking a giant leap forward. I pack up all the encouraging praise that’s engulfed me over the years for my writing. I stuff that fabulous feedback for my words and wisdom into my massive handbag, then shout to the masses from 10 metres (33 feet in old money) above that I declare I am officially ‘a writer.’
There is also this oft-shared nugget of advice: when one is nervous, picture your audience naked. In the case of a writer–unless perhaps you are drafting some quite risqué prose–I don’t think that imagining my potential readers sans clothing is helpful. Neither should they imagine me naked. In fact, I feel quite uncomfortable imagining myself sporting a swimsuit on that diving board, with all eyes cast my direction. [Note-making for future blog post: ‘my rogue body image/issues’]
But now I remind myself this–I am running the show here. This is my blog, my free-writing space. I can write this leisure-centre scene with an unpredictable twist, where I am not near-naked and teetering on the edge.
Cue new ending:
I am no longer wriggling with nerves as I stand my lithe body above the awaiting pool.
Instead, I am sat crosslegged on the large diving board, wearing my comfy pyjamas, observing the crowd below while I tap-tap-tap on an old typewriter. There is no point risking my MacBook’s demise by balancing tenuously above motherboard-zapping water.
There we are, the players in the scene: me, my typewriter and all of you. You are my pool.
You are my pool of characters—the ones whom I observe then incorporate into my stories.
You are also the awaiting spectator pool, who catch each typed page I release and let fly. My words cascade down to the crowds below, where each sentence is savoured until you all, en masse, holler upwards to me: ‘you are indeed a writer.’
Suddenly, I feel seen. And I feel safe.
And, although this may simply be an exercise in fiction, I feel validated as a writer in this moment. Thank you!
Now, I must remove my pyjamas and get dressed. Even writers must make an effort!
[To note: I took this photo. It’s a fountain pool poignantly holding place at the JFK memorial at Veterans Beach in Hyannis, Mass. A perfect photographic inspiration for writing about facing fear and moving through it, striving to reach what your heart and soul desires to actualise your life’s dreams.]