Exposing Your Boxers

Who hasn’t had an embarrassing moment that they want to forget? Nobody, right? This Tuesday I’m going to talk about my daughter’s most embarrassing moment. (Because, why would I talk about my own? It’s embarrassing.)

My daughter will tell you that her most embarrassing moment came when she was nine years old. She was performing with Central Arkansas Children’s Theatre. The play had a farm setting. Her costume was a pair of blue jean shorts overalls. Her character had to stand on a chair, then jump out of her overalls, revealing a pair of blue paisley polka-dotted boxers. I remember the underwear exactly because I shopped all over Conway searching for the “right” pair that would a) fit without falling off of her, and b) read as funny on stage.

She performed the scene beautifully with stellar comic timing that went way beyond her age. And no, the boxers didn’t fall down on stage. Nothing as dramatic as that. My daughter will tell you this was her most embarrassing moment because she was out there on a stage in underwear. Never mind that it wasn’t her underwear. And didn’t matter that the boxers covered her up better than some of the shorts in her own closet would have. It was the fact that she was in underwear. UNDERWEAR.

Just like it took my daughter a lot of courage at the time to perform that scene (twice!), it takes writers a lot of courage to get beyond the writing and actually let someone else read your work. This may not be a problem for all writers, but it certainly is for me. The perfectionist, the introvert, the person that struggles with confidence.

But if I’m going to do this writing thing, I have to step out on the stage with my boxers showing.

I entered a pitch contest recently. I was notified that I did not make it past the first round. Of course, I was disappointed. But as the organizer of the contest said, “You should be commended for putting yourself out there for critique.”

I’m going to get valuable input as to why my entry was passed over. Was it my writing style? My premise? My character development? I’ll find out soon. Then I’ll take that information and apply it to my story and it will be better for it.

I’ve also submitted my work to a community of children’s authors. It was so hard to do that. Really hard. But I did it because I want to know how to make my story better. I’ve been given some feedback. Some harsh, some kind, all of it helpful. The problem others have pointed out is that my first 5 pages are not engaging and exciting enough…yet.

So now I revise and edit and make my first 5 pages better. I’m no longer blindly revising, not knowing which things to keep and which to cut. I have a direction to go with clear goals to achieve – because I let someone else read my work.

And suddenly it feels completely normal to stand on a stage in paisley polka-dotted boxers.

(Posted with much love to my daughter who gave me permission to share her story.)

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