It seems I have to relearn this simple lesson every time I end up in a rut: Performing for a live audience is the easiest way to break through a writer's block. I had the joy of playing music for some family this weekend, and the smiles, applause and encouraging words have soothed much of the anxiety that has been building inside.
For many years, I wrote. I wrote about what I was feeling. I wrote about my sorrows and joys, my secret desires and my fears. I wrote poems and songs, and I wrote stories and essays. I wrote a lot. But, I was so worried that when I bared my soul-papers to others I would just be giving them the tools they needed to destroy any shred of self-esteem I had left.
I finally met someone, a very talented musician, who earned my trust by sharing with me first. She never pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Instead, she slowly allowed my comfort zone to grow and grow and evolve and shift and change until it enveloped her like a soft blanket. Lo and behold! She was on the inside where it was safe. It was with her that I fist began sharing my work, and it was there that I finally broke out of my chrysalis and learned to fly. Today, I am grateful for my friend, Helen.
Whenever my confidence wanes, or my desire to write or to play fades, or I just can't seem to find a topic or tune, I need to remember that misery loves company, and what is company but a captive audience waiting to see where my work will take them? It may be to a place we've been before, but sometimes we need to pass through places we've been to get to the unexplored territory on the other side....