Monday, 22 August 2011

Tell, and Show



Ten weeks ago, I moved to a new city. Somewhere I'd never lived before. Somewhere where I only knew one person.

Since then, there have been plenty of ups and downs, including 15 workman visits to the flat I'm renting, most spectacularly from the utilities company who took 7 visits to move my gas meter (which was located, bizzarely, in the maisonette below). I have been deafened by Water Hammer (don't ask), traffic, the road being dug up outside my window and the complementary strains of sander, saw and drill from the renovations in the flat above. I have taken to wearing earplugs a lot.

So much for holing up in my new flat and writing. Mind you, even going out proved problematic the other day, as I ventured to my first book group meeting. I walked into the hall and into a mist of white dust which promptly settled on my black jersey and my black shoes, and seeped under and round the door to settle on my coat and new boots. The workman was very apologetic. I promptly burst into tears. Moving is a stressful business.

But I digress. Living in Cornwall for seven years, I became a hermit. Moving to Bristol is an opportunity for me to Do Things Differently. Apart from the noise factor, city living is hugely welcome to my inner urbanite, and suddenly I'm faced with a plethora of choices: places to explore, new walks to try, exciting shops, wonderful delis and cafes. And, most importantly, new places to meet people. My old self would have shrunk from this last. But I've decided that I have the choice, this time, between disappearing or Showing Up. So far, I have shown up for the book group (who were very welcoming). I have auditioned for a singing group (and been rejected.) I have offered to volunteer at the local art gallery (they never called back). I have signed on for courses in Qi Gong, Portrait Painting, Voice Enhancement and Public Speaking. Yes, Public Speaking. With my novel due to be published in spring next year, it will be up to me to put on my brave hat and visit bookshops, libraries, book groups and anywhere else that will have me. So I'd better be prepared.

The trouble with Showing Up is that there's always the fear that you will Show Yourself Up (as an amateur, a fraud, an imposter or whoever your inner critic is labelling you this week). That comes with the territory. For writers, showing up in one form or another is a way of life - which is an odd thing, given that so many of us are introverted and shy. But unless we show up at the page, the novel or the poem or the story will never be written. And unless we submit to agents and publishers (which is showing ourselves up in every sense) our work will never be seen.

Showing Up means knocking on a lot of doors. Some will remain shut. Some will open a tiny crack and then, when they see who you are, will slam shut in your face. And, just sometimes, a door will be opened.

The other day I took my courage in my hands and wrote to a well-known author to ask her if she might consider reading my novel and writing a review. To my overwhelming gratitude and astonishment, she emailed me straight back saying that she would be delighted. What a wonderful example of an experienced writer lending a helping hand to a newbie. It's given me the courage to knock on a few more doors.

It puts me in mind of the famous quote from Marianne Williamson, which is always worth reading for the umpteenth time:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So here's a challenge. What will you do this week to Show Up?




11 comments:

JO said...

Many years ago, when I was grieving, and getting out to anything was a struggle, I had a mantra - I do not have to like this, but I do have to do it. So I went to everything I was invited to; and yes, sometimes I was miserable. But I found friends in unlikely places and have never regretted it.

While moving to a new places is, of course, different, some of the 'can I really do this' feelings are still there. And you can - if you allow yourself to be welcomed, and surprised. (And, if you can drive as far as Marlborough once a week, we have a choir that doesn't have auditions!)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Good for you, Jo. :) Inertia is soooo hard to overcome, particularly when you're having a bad time.
One of my mantras now is: Go, but without expectations.
And thanks re. the choir - unfortunately I don't drive, but I'm sure there will be something here if I persevere.
Susiex

Derek said...

Congratulations Susie on making new choices. Every choice made and acted upon creates new expectations in and around you. And the interaction with the author sounds like a new pattern forming!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Derek. :)
Susiex

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post, Susie. I have to say, since i've started writing, i have hidden away from life somewhat, and would probably be a complete hermit if it weren't for the demands and pleasures offered by my own family, which drag me out. So i especially admire you. It is all so easy to sit infront of the screen and bask in the comfort of our current wip and faceless friends in online forums.

I had many jobs at home and abroad when i was young and single, so can relate somewhat to your situation and would say you are doing completely the right thing, challenging as it might be.

Good luck.

Sam x

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thank you, Sam. I really appreciate that. :)
Susiex

Debs Riccio said...

Susie, I am going to have that Marianne Williamson quote tattooed to the inside of my eyelids. Lovely, lovely post, made me well up and want to move in with you!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

LOL, Debs!
It's a wonderful quote, isn't it?
:)
Susiex

leila said...

It's so stressful moving to a new place where you don't know anyone. I really feel for you - even for the most super-confident person, let alone the average person, it's nervewracking to get out there and meet people. Good for you for showing up in every way, and I hope you soon make loads of new friends and acquaintances :)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Leila - it has been extremely stressful in all kinds of ways. Onwards and upwards, hopefully!
Susiex

Minnie said...

Lovely post. Adding sympathy to the congrats (I know far more than is healthy about noisy flats).
Hope the author-in-question loves your book & gives you good advice.
I wish you much happiness in Brissle, which I found a great place to be in many ways: may it be as kind or even more so to you. Bon courage for the various joinings-in!