Saturday, November 3, 2007

Square Peg

Well before Sarah Jessica Parker taught us everything about sex and friendship, she was on a TV show called Square Pegs. It featured geeky kids who didn’t quite fit in but were the better for it. Watching it with my own children reminded me of the pain of adolescence, which somehow revives itself at the worst moments. Who among us feels supremely self-confident 24/7? Not me.

As a kid I was too smart for my own good and skipped two grades. I don’t think this happens anymore, and that’s probably a good thing. While I was physically well-developed, I’m sure emotionally I could have benefited from a more gradual introduction to the teenage years---like when I was actually a teen. I started high school when I was eleven. I graduated at 15, an age when many kids are just finishing their awkward freshman year. I’m not saying the experience made me crazy, but there are times I wonder about the wisdom of the principal, Miss Charlotte Patterson (who looked exactly like the portrait of George Washington in the school hallway---in fact, I thought it was she until I was in second grade).

In college, things really came together for me, both academically and socially, but there was always that hint of uncertainty. Now I want to hang out with the cool writer kids, and it’s just a touch intimidating. I’m not the baby of the class anymore. In fact, I’m the grandma. Hi, Juliette! Hi, Sadie Jane!

But I remind myself we all start out with a blank screen or piece of paper. We all feel like the ugly duckling sometimes. I’ve just got to flap my wings, morph into my swan-self and float away. And no matter what happens, I’m not going to sink.

Geek? Freak? Or Beauty Queen? I think I can claim all three (Remember, I was second runner-up to the May Queen. A couple of well-placed shoves, and that crown would have been mine.) . Do you think writers have to suffer to succeed? Have you given yourself a deadline for publication? What do you do to boost your self-confidence? Learn your craft? Who is your inspiration? Why am I asking so many questions?

Apparently, I can’t stop. Will you pay $ to see the Sex and the City movie? Have you seen SJP in the ghastly get-up that’s Carrie’s wedding dress? Now I’m done.


BernardL said...

Do you think writers have to suffer to succeed?

No, and from reading writers’ blogs, the suffering seems to start after they get published.

Have you given yourself a deadline for publication?

Nope, but it helps when I get full manuscript requests.

What do you do to boost your self-confidence?

I fall back on the fact I am very good at my day-job.

Learn your craft?

I get better at editing all the time.

Who is your inspiration?

Was, is, and always will be my Dad.

Why am I asking so many questions?

You’re an overachiever. :)

Lindsey said...

Fun blog! My ten-year high school reunion is this month, so I've definitely been thinking about adolescent insecurities and whether we ever really get past them.

I have a whole theory about greatness coming out of oppression, so yeah, I think writers have to suffer. Such is my problem - I live a pretty charmed life! :)

Tiffany Clare said...

We don't have to suffer, greatness comes out of suffering -- most of the time, but sometimes it's self inflicted suffering, which it shouldn't be, but I think we are all a bunch of masochists! Sad but true.

We shouldn't have a deadline for publication, but I think all of us think... okay if I don't sell this one...that's it! But that never turns out to be the case.

How to boost the self confidence? be happy with what you've accomplished in life, I guess. Yeah I'm a bit young to say that, but I have a nice home, I buy the things I like (thanks to the day job!) I have two beautiful kids, even though they drive me crazy 90% of the time. And I have a husband who is actually supportive, even though he drives me crazy 99% of the time :D

Inspiration? other authors that I respect, have talked to or read.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

LOL, Bernard, you answered everything but the Sex and the City questions. Can I take that as a "no?" I've gotten a lot better with editing myself. When I think that I queried the first 2 books I finished, I shudder in shame.

Linds,good luck at your reunion. I have a friend who keeps saying "All life is just like high school." I hope he's wrong. I don't let myself suffer either---life's too short. Oh, every now and again I go through a big wallow, and then I wise up.

Tiff, husbands and children are meant to drive us crazy. That's their job. But I wouldn't have half so much fun w/o them. Yesterday I watched Sadie for a couple of hours---and I literally WATCHED her--couldn't keep my eyes and hands off her. Now there's something that's important.

BernardL said...

I admit other than a few minutes of an episode here and there, I've never watched Sex and the City. What everyone thought was glamorous about Sex and the City, I thought was sad and depressing. I'm from the wrong generation for Sex and the City. :)

Elyssa Papa said...

I don't know if I'll see the Sex and the City movie... I just don't see how it could translate well onto film. But one of my fave SJP movies is Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Loved that movie.

I think when you're learning something---especially something that makes you grow---that there's some suffering involved. But at the end, you're that more capable to handle the next phase in your life.

Terri Osburn said...

I had no idea there was going to be a quiz. Sheesh. I can claim both geek and beauty queen. I have the 50 trophies to prove the pageant life including my Princess of Bloomingdale sash. LOL! I have the glasses, good grades and the fact I never made it to a prom as proof of the other.

I don't think writers have to suffer but I think it helps if they've experienced a little living. Which inevitably means suffering at some point.

I have no deadline for publication. I supposed if ten years from now I'm not published and not enjoying myself anymore, I'll hang up the keyboard.

I'm afraid I go the cheesy route, see something not so well written that got published and tell myself I can do at least that good. Not the best way to do it but it has the desired effect. Most of the time.

I've taken online courses, attended workshops and conferences, read how-to books and studied authors I would like to emulate.

I'm not sure about my inspiration. I don't get a chance to slow down long enough to think about it. But pretty much every decision I make is for the purpose of giving my daughter a better life so I'll say it must be her.

I watched Sex & the City when it was on and I'll go see the movie if I can swing it. I haven't seen the dress though. Now I'll have to google and see if I can find it!

Janga said...

My high school was very cliquish, and I definitely was not part of the "in-crowd." I don't remember being troubled that I wasn't. I had my own groups of friends--community, church, and newspaper worlds. I suffered my share of adolescent angst, but it had more to do with reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot than with envy of the beauty queens.

I never saw an episode of Sex and the City. My knowledge of it is limited to the academic equivalent of water-cooler talk, and I doubt that I will see the movie. I am interested in some reviewer's comment that EJ's Duchess quartet is like Sex and the City.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Janga, I never was part of the in-crowd either in high school, but I had some great friends. I guess we were pretty nerdy because we used to share books and talk about them (golly, just like now, LOL!).

Terrio, answering questions is not compulsory! A+ for effort, though, and I love what you said about Isabelle.

Ely, I've been singing Girls Just Want to Have Fun all day thanks to you, hiccup and all.

Santa said...

I hated my HS years. I didn't come into my own until college. I've never seen Sex & the City because we don't get HBO. Not interested in the least, though I did see that bridal gown and thought WTH! were they thinking.

As to writers suffering, I'm not sure we have to suffer but we do. Like when our muse abandons us or when we receive rejections.

I have no deadlines and that may be one of my problems!

irisheyes said...

I would say I was a cross between geek and invisible. I kind of melted into the woodwork as much as possible. I was friendly with everyone but never fit into a certain group. The TV was my best buddy during HS! (Not a period in my life I'd like to repeat!)

I'm not sure if writers need to suffer. I think those that really suffer write really depressing stuff. So I would tend to agree with Terri's statement that they should experience life a little. Then again, is that important? Can someone who has never been in love write a love story? Can someone who has never had sex write a sex scene?

Never watched an episode of Sex and the City, same as Santa - no HBO. I'm not sure if I'd see the movie. Just like all other movies these days probably as a rental.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Irish, I wouldn't go back to high school even if it meant I was back to my bikini weight. I work in a high school and somehow things seem just the same--- angsty/angry, only now with tattoos and piercings.

Santa, I often wonder if I would ever be able to write to a deadline. My self-imposed ones get postponed all the time, *G*. Roll out 2-4 books a year? Doubtful.

Tessa Dare said...

Santa, I often wonder if I would ever be able to write to a deadline. My self-imposed ones get postponed all the time, *G*. Roll out 2-4 books a year? Doubtful.

Maggie, someday - soon - you're going to get a contract, and you'll HAVE to do it. Of course you can. And you will.

I was always a square peg. I still am.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Tessa, you have humbled me with your confidence. Right now, I feel much more like a Blogger than a writer, ever so neglectful of those things I've waded into, then out of! Must put on boots and persevere.

Hellie Sinclair said...

Do you think writers have to suffer to succeed?

I think adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.

Have you given yourself a deadline for publication?

Oh, I stopped doing that. That's demoralizing. My basic deadline now is: Before I die. And I hope that's long enough.

What do you do to boost your self-confidence?

I walk around naked. Seriously, it's actually helped.

Learn your craft?

Go to workshops. Go to critique groups. Congregate with other writers to remind myself I'm not the only geek.

Who is your inspiration?

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Why am I asking so many questions?

Because you drank too much caffeine.

Will you pay $ to see the Sex and the City movie?

No. And I wouldn't go if they paid me either.

Have you seen SJP in the ghastly get-up that’s Carrie’s wedding dress?


Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Hellion, I'm a before I die kinda gal myself...which doesn't leave me all that much time when I check the actuarial tables (and my knees).