On this coming Tuesday evening, October 16, our area's art council is meeting for our usual monthly get-together where we share announcements then highlight a "featured artist." This Tuesday the "featured artist" is to be ME. And I'm getting cold feet.
You see, I wrote a lot of poetry when I was in high school; I ended up publishing the literary magazine at Granite Hills High and my staff chose several of my poems to be included. (They were selecting "blind" so they didn't know whose work was whose.) In college I also edited the literary magazine and again published poetry. And with just a couple of exceptions (one poem published in a local MENSA newsletter and a couple "published" on Internet forums), I didn't write poetry again for almost twenty years.
You know how it is: life gets busy. And I was too busy diapering bottoms, scolding little boys for throwing rocks at the cat, and just plain old raising four kids to write much. Every once in a while, a phrase would come to me and settle in the front of my brain briefly, then back it would go, disappearing with the other brain cells I lost during those sleepless baby/toddler years.
Then a friend came into my life. She bravely stood at the podium during our Christmas Tea three or four years ago, and she read some of her poetry to the nearly one hundred women present. Her act gave me the bravery to go back, pick up my pen, and to start composing again. So I've been writing a little over these past three years -- some poetry, some other stuff, too.
But right now I feel as if every image in my poetry is cliche. Like every metaphor is purple prose. I went through a "crisis of identity" when I was at an artists' retreat last fall, and I spent a great deal of the weekend in tears. This same friend helped me through that crisis, too, and encouraged me.
The crisis is back -- and it seems worse to me now than it did then. At least I could hide myself at the artists' retreat somewhat -- but this time I have to be front and center, quivering and quavering before people while attempting to read my work. Tomorrow night. I'm scared of making a fool out of myself. I'm terrified that I'm producing fifth-rate verse and that my writing has no merit whatsoever. What wild idea was this, to volunteer to be a "featured artist"?
My feet are very, very cold right now. I just hope they warm up a little before Tuesday evening. Please, just a little, Lord?