I'm thinking of nerve right now, since I've wasted a perfectly good couple of hours playing and replaying the past and scripting a future encounter with a particularly repugnant bully of a father I had to sit a meeting with yesterday... realizing that yes, this was the same man who tried to make me look like a fool in front of a group of other parents when I'd volunteered to come in and teach them how to use a particularly useful Internet tool, unpaid, and yes, I would certainly need to face him again - next week, in fact, in conferences. If it wasn't that his son, a sweet and genuine sixth grader with some attention issues, was such a love and one of the students I am particularly fond of, I'd like nothing more than to take a chunk out of his pompous, loudmouthed, bullying hide. I've been running through possible cold retorts or stern rebukes I could use if he acts up during conferences - clever, pithy statements all, some taking the moral high road and others telling him that if he can't keep a civil tongue in his head, I've nothing more to say to him.
But who am I kidding? I know myself. I've got one heck of an imagination - and one heck of a lack of guts. Simply put, I am a coward to make the Cowardly Lion proud.
Like my leonine cohort, I wish I had the nerve, too. The lion, at least, really WAS a lion... he just needed the self-confidence. Here behind my computer, I'm bold as a lioness... but get me face to face, and I'm a bit more like that mouse in the song. Times when I've tried to "lion up" come back to haunt me... like the time I could have pitched a script idea to a Star Trek: The Next Generation writer at WishCon. I'd approached him after a writing workshop he ran, asking how one got pitch sessions if one was a fledgeling writer, assuming that one followed the canon and his workshop tips. He gave me a kind, succinct answer - then said, in so many words, "So, what have you got?" At which point any nerve I'd had promptly abandoned me, I began tripping over my words, suddenly decided that the fully-developed idea I had for a script was absolutely the stupidest thing anyone could ever come up with, and stammered something about it just being in the idea phase and that I hoped I'd have a chance to attend another workshop maybe when it was more developed. Then I fled... there's no other word for it. There are other times, sure... but that's the Big One that my inner writer won't let go of, nagging at me again and again - what if that was My Chance? You only get one, if you believe in that sort of thing.
But it's not just fate. Not just a failure to grab that bit of happenstance and hang on with all ten fingers. I just don't have the nerve, I'm afraid, to do what needs to be done to get my writing to that next level. And what may that be? Shmoozing. Facetime. Networking.
Networking is quite the buzzword, particularly in the writing industry... I hate to say it, but oftentimes, it's not talent but sheer dumb luck that gets you published. That's how it worked with my first book... I was in the right place at the right time and was able to sufficiently match the series author's writing style to make a good fit. Since then... haven't been in the right place and am not sure what the right time is. People suggest e-mailing authors of similar books and asking who their agent is, or which editor they worked with... articles chant out the litany of how vital it is to get to conferences where you can get facetime with publishers and agents. Of the options, I'd rather do the workshops - if I could only afford it; I still haven't worked up the nerve to do the e-mailing. It might work - after all, if I had any possibility of being able to help another writer into the biz, I would (but I don't, so my help is, right now, worthless) - but... well, I haven't managed to "lion up" yet.
But I am working on my roar, anticipating the day when I will.