Worth the Risk

When I was a kid - well, a smaller kid - I hated crowds. But I loved playing the piano. My instructor was indignant that I be part of the recitals. Keep in mind that back then I tended to blab whatever popped into my head. Well, when the time came for that first recital, my mom drove me to the hall. There was a nice-sized crowd, all seated at tables with fine meals before them.

I was so nervous. I couldn't eat. My turn came, and I timidly made my way to the front of the room. Sat at the piano. I had two pieces to play. The first one was rocky, but I managed to get through it. The second one, though, my hands hands were shaking so badly and the notes were such a blur that I couldn't do it. I could see my instructor encouraging me, urging me to finish. Instead, though, I slammed the lid down over the keys, pushed the bench back, and announced to the room, "I don't want to play anymore." With that, I stood and sat back down at my table.

Sometimes I remember that day when I'm writing. The truth is, I wish I had finished. Some could say I was taking a stand, or being honest or even practical. But I was just scared. Writing is kind of like that. We have the option of seeing it through to the end, or not. The idea of someone else seeing your work, discovering every dark corner of your soul, that's terrifying. Writing makes us vulnerable.

I don't know the feeling of finishing a piano recital, but I do know the feeling of finishing a novel. It's... satisfying. It's relieving. It's exhilarating. Even though the thought of the world reading my story gives me that same sick-to-the-stomach feeling like at the recital, I think that offering people a few hours of escape is worth the risk.