I have a new hobby/addiction/obsession, call it what you will, I have started to copy and paste theatre reviews into Word, just so I can count the words.
I’m writing this blog partly to clear my mind of the rubbish that’s been swirling around it for the past few days, and partly because I know how petty it’s all going to look when I write it down and I’m hoping that will give me the ability to move on.
I’ve mentioned before, more than once, that my mother is never exactly supportive of anything I do, sometimes she’s actively discouraging.
In general last week was good. I was asked to take on some additional writing work, and I reviewed a production of Peter Pan on Ice. I watched Peter Pan on Thursday evening, considered my words overnight, and, after writing and rewriting, I submitted my review on Friday morning. It was published on the Guide2Bristol website and was picked up from there by the production company who also published it on their website. I am always nervous about anything I’ve written, whether it’s my own blog or work I’m doing for someone else, and as always I was relieved when I saw it had been published.
On Friday afternoon my mother visited, as she always does, whilst here she raised the subject of me going to university. It’s unusual for us to discuss it, when I first told her the news she greeted it with “Oh” and then started talking about The Archers, so I tend not to bring it up. I wish she hadn’t bothered this time, she was concerned….”Do you think you should have told Jayne that you’re leaving?” she asked, Jayne being my boss, “What if you don’t get in?”. “They’ve offered me a place already Mum” I replied, “Well, yes, I know” she said, “but it’s conditional, but you might not pass your course”. See, written down it does look pathetic, nothing to get worked up about, but written down you can’t see the tone of voice it was said in, or the look that was given at the same time.
Just before she left she saw the programme for Peter Pan on Ice, “Oh, are you going to see that?” she asked, so I had to tell her that I’d gone the night before and that I’d reviewed it. After her reaction to the first review I ever wrote, back in October, I haven’t ever drawn her attention to anything I’ve written. I reviewed the ‘Love Cooking Festival’ at Bristol’s Colston Hall, I was so proud to see my first published review, so pleased to see the words “Vivienne Kennedy is a freelance Bristol writer” at the foot of it, I was eager to show my mother, I printed it out, she read it, with that pursed up look on her face that I know so well, handed it back to me and said “are you sure that’s how you spell D’Acampo?”.
Two or three hours after she left my house on Friday I received an email from her, it was brief, just nine words….”I read your review, interesting, but a bit long”. That was it, added to the earlier comment about whether I would actually get into university, my confidence plummeted. My new hobby/addiction/obsession began. My review was slightly under five hundred words long, others were longer, (ok, some were shorter too, but not that much shorter). I resisted the temptation to email my mother back with links to every longer review that I found. I resisted the temptation to reply at all.
Discussing it with friends over the weekend I was asked why I let her get to me so much, I don’t fully know why, but it doesn’t matter how many people like what I do, or how much praise I get, it only ever takes one comment from her to knock my confidence right back to zilch. I think it’s a case of knowing how blind most parents, including me, are to their children’s failings, so if my own mother doesn’t like something I’ve done, how can anybody else possibly like it, and if they say they do…well they’re just being nice.
So….I need to move on, to get past this, and not to let it stop me doing what I want to do. I enjoy writing, I enjoy the work I’ve been doing lately, I want to go to university and study journalism. I don’t like feeling like I’m rubbish, and I don’t want to let her make me feel like that anymore. People ask me to write, they publish what I write, I was offered a university place based on a personal statement that included links to this blog and to my review of ‘Loves Cooking’. I have to start believing in myself, I have to believe that I have some ability already and that whoever read my university application believes that I have the potential to learn and improve.
Right, it’s written down, it’s out of my head, it was possibly even more petty than I feared, I’m over it. Thank you for reading.