I am damn mean to me some days. When the me that shows up onstage doesn’t do all the this and that perfectly, the way we practiced, I can be brutal to me. Way more so than anyone else has ever been; the worst I’ve ever gotten from other people is indifference, really. Me lashes me for decades, in some cases. I remember a couple of people saying weird, kind of judgmental things to me after some shows, like, “Why did you choose that poem?” or “What happened to that style you used to do?” and it just kind of sticks to my pelt like a burr. It’s not that bad, just annoying, kind of, “Thanks for giving me something else to carry, ‘friend.’ If you think I didn’t see every little thing I did, you’re so wrong…” The me that sees the chasm between practice and performance wields heavy, sharp blades.
It gets easier over the years. As I get better at dealing with others’ criticism, I get better at dealing with my own. As I realize that even my “worst” reading is leagues better than a lot of readings most people have seen, I learn not to trash myself too much. People came away with something powerful tonight, as always. Something strong and clear. I don’t have to make someone weep or get a Standing O every single time; it’s enough to connect, to tell the truth and share my voice.
Now is going to be hard, maybe the hardest time, because I’m so rusty from avoiding the stage so long. I haven’t worked much at memorization, and I don’t have my old touring partner to lean on. And I’m trying new work–new styles, more singing, and it’s going to take time for that to get seamless, really in my body. This is the beginning of learning to walk again. Just when the book-me became an old woman, stage-me reverted to infancy.
But every single day, bet: I’m going to be bigger, better, stronger. Maybe slower, maybe sadder, some days, but that’s the truth I live some days. I am still worth every penny I earn for the gigs I do, and in most cases, a lot more.
So if you missed my first comeback, the debut of the new book, get ready. I’m just warming up–and you want to see what’s happening here: this is when I go from good to great; this is when the legend begins. Don’t miss it. ❤