Transforming: One Awkward Moment at a Time

It happened again: another mortifying moment at a party.

It was just like the time about two and half years ago when the topic of my writing came up with people I admire. I ended up stammering — at length — tongue not tied, paralyzed. I displayed an utter loss of words and can now add “conversation stopper” to my list of titles. What the fuck is wrong with me?

I’ll back up. The party was a work party. When I say “work” — I mean my day job. And by “day job,” I mean how I earn money. I don’t write about it much here because it’s important to protect the confidentiality of my colleagues and clients.

To set the scene, though — my background is in TV & Film Post Production. Our community in Los Angeles is relatively small, and when you’ve been in the same field for 21 years like I have, relationships — however superficial they may have initially begun — morph into a real sense of connection and warmth.

But what does that have to do how I mortified myself?

First, a Quick Timeline

  • It used to be my day job was a full time thing and I blogged in anonymity. In 2010, I left the VFX (visual effects) world and ended up managing a very small audio house (translation: audio post production).
  • Then a year later, I quit my job (“in this economy?!”) and dropped off the post production grid altogether. It wasn’t a hiatus, it was a cocoon. Commence deeper soul searching than ever before. Lots of solitude. I loved it — made a job out of healing – excelled, even! — but the pay sucked.
  • After about five months, I began freelance bookkeeping. I still spent a good 20 hours a week studying writing, actually writing and blogging. More and more, I linked the blog to Facebook and Twitter, until eventually I realized I had come out as someone who writes about her life online.
  • During the past year, my bookkeeping work brought me full circle back into service for TV & Film people — many of whom I’ve known since Cosmopolitans were the new (ooh, it’s pink!) drink.

Flash forward to last week. There I was at a party, in my body (as we are), participating in affectionate banter as Post Production Ruth when the topic of my writing came up.

It shouldn’t have, but it really surprised me. My on-line persona got pulled into the room — by other people, some of whom were former bosses — Writing Ruth, in Post Production Ruth’s body. She doesn’t talk; she types. She has a dictionary at the ready. She’s alone for hours and hours thinking of the right words — none of which ever have to come out of her mouth.

She tried, though. “I’m working on blogging less and drafting pieces to send out for . . . um . . . I can’t think of the word,” hands to head.

“Publication?”

“No . . . that’s not it. . . . um . . .” hands flailing (no keyboard around).

“Editing?”

“No — I do need that, of course — umm . . . “

I have no recollection of how the moment was salvaged. It somehow ended and the night went on.

I think I wanted to find a word for having my work sanctioned by recognized professionals. I mean, that’s what being published means to me. But I’m still not conversant about it. Obviously.

On one hand, being asked about my writing was nice. I felt known — seen for the work I want to do, acknowledged for the person I want to become. But it showed me that my development into a writer is still on the fledgling side of the arc. And boy am I insecure about it. I wear my lack of self-confidence on my sleeves (both of them). It’s highly uncomfortable. Yes, mortifying.

Okay. I just looked up the word mortify. One of the definitions is medical and has to do with gangrene. Turns out “gangrene” means, “localized death and decomposition . . . ”

Awesome.

Why awesome? Because change — in my case, career change — does involve a form of loss and death. Death of the old career. It’s a process that takes time. As fast as time goes — children whose soccer games those bosses used rush out for are now in college — some moments stall, freeze, painfully so.

In retrospect, I’m kind of grateful for that discomfort. It shows me exactly what I need to do next. (Rehearse talking points? Sure). Also — keep working — submit writing. Simple. I can do that.

2 thoughts on “Transforming: One Awkward Moment at a Time

  1. I think what you really do is you create. Create those impossible connections. We all create in different ways…or rather we need to. And you do it through writing.
    Which suddenly reminds me of this line in a poem by Andrea Gibson – “We have to create. It’s the only thing louder than destruction.”

    1. Thank you, Antara. Also, I’m so happy to hear of Andrea Gibson. I can’t wait to explore her work. Always a pleasure when you stop by here. xox

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