Saturday, October 05, 2013

If You Can’t Love Yourself . . .

You know me. You know my sense of identity, and how the loudest Rish Outfield detractor will always be me. I’m not one of those guys who can go on and on about how great I am, or how dead-on that impression was, or how the narration for our latest episode was so awesome it really elevated the material (even if I feel that way).

There are people out there who can do that, though, and they are probably more successful than me. If you can say, “Hey, I wrote a story called 'Arse Assault,' and it’s the deepest, best Period Adventure Comedy you’ll ever read, a true bargain at £8.88!” you have to be more likely to sell a copy than my typical, “I don’t know if it’s any good, but I worked hard on it.” And even that is beyond me, since I’d probably add, “Actually, I could’ve worked harder, but I knew I’d never release it if I kept polishing it every time I went to sell it.”

I wrote a story a couple of years ago that I think is really scary, but I’m too afraid to say that in a blogpost. Is that irony?

I mention this because, I’m currently editing a reading of my story “Office Visit” that Bryan Lincoln narrated last January when we were at the New Media Expo. We got together in Abbie Hilton’s room, set up a bunch of microphones, and recorded for ninety minutes on my story. While I’m sure I mentioned it in my blog back then, it was quite an honor to have such a group wasting thei—er, spending their time performing my work. Renee Chambliss and Lauren Harris voiced the main characters, Marshal Latham was the villain, Big Anklevich voiced the love interest, and Abbie and I voiced the rest of the characters.

I finally started putting it together, and when you’ve got everybody live in a room, the editing process is pretty easy. At first, I was somewhat embarrassed by it. The story seems extraordinarily long, and seems to take forever getting started. I wanted to hit the Rish Outfield from a decade ago for writing two pages of exposition before anything happens, and was embarrassed for the Rish Outfield of months ago for sitting in the room there, all too aware of that fact.

But then, something strange happened. Renee and Lauren started in on their characters, best friends on the cusp of adolescence, and suddenly, the story started coming to life. I don’t know if they were trying to one-up one another (and if so, it was surely unconscious), but they brought excitement, humor, and humanity to those two girls, and just as suddenly, I started grinning, telling the ghosts looking over my shoulder, “Wow, this is really good stuff, isn’t it?”

The ghosts did not contradict me.

The story gets funny, and then it gets scary, and hopefully exciting before the end, but I can’t get over how lucky I was to have all these talented people taking time out of their trip to work on my story. For free.

I remember being in college, running auditions for student films I had written, listening to people read the lines I’d given them, and every once in a while, someone would speak them, and they sounded Really Really Good, as though somebody better than me had written them, as though these were real actors in a real movie. It was an exciting feeling, and it never failed to make me feel talented and proud of my work when it happened.

Now I'm older, and somehow less confident in ways than I was then, and am literally incapable of saying, "I wrote something for so-and-so contest, and I think it's really good." Even that sentence was hard to put down (I ended up substituting "so-and-so" for the name of the contest I entered yesterday).

It's sad, really, and just a part of my messed-up personality. I think some of the stuff I write is not only good, but actually pretty somewhat very good. I just can't say it. I can barely accept thinking it. I don't know where that comes from or how to overcome it. But, if in the near future, you see me write a blog post, talking about a story I wrote that I think is really scary, maybe you can nod and say, "That middle-aged boy is making progress."

Rish Outfield, Fan of Frogs

1 comment:

Seraph said...

It's tough to talk up your own work. I feel that way about my drawings / art all the time. I find it hard to push the 'publish' button with some of the stuff I do - so I sympathize. I think here in NZ it's less acceptable to say your stuff is good too ( the 'tall poppy' syndrome is very much in effect here ! ). Your writing ( the stuff I've read . listened to anyway ) is really good though ! I'm looking forward to hearing this story your editing !