Friday, January 21, 2011

A Case of Ne-ne-ne-nerves

It has to be nerves. There’s no other explanation. 

Well there is, but I don’t like it, so we’ll ignore it. 

Did I ever tell you about The Voice? Yes, I believe so, in my blog on making my first video. But it was just a passing allusion, not the whole picture. This isn’t something I talk about often, but  I’m passing through a trying time and need to share.

Besides, it’s my belief we all have one. A Voice, that is.

You know what I’m talking about. Whenever you embark on a new venture, when times are tough, when you feel vulnerable, sometimes when you’re really happy, or sad and blue, when you’re taking those first few steps in a new direction full of insecurity The Voice shows up.

The Voice lives inside my head. She – for she is definitely female – is a nasty-minded, over-bearing, soul-destroying harridan. Unlike any other personae in my life, She knows exactly which buttons to push to destroy any possibility of happiness, potential confidence or even simple contentment.  I don’t know where She came from, or when, for I cannot remember a time when The Voice wasn’t there.

The Voice is a bully. The Voice is mean. The Voice is destructive. If I had to spend any time with a human being who spoke to me the way The Voice does, I’d simply have to kill them.  Justifiable homicide.

For example, just the other day I was getting ready to go out. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Hey, I still look good, even at fifty-eight.”

“You need to lose ten pounds. Your belly is round as a beach ball,” said The Voice. “And your teeth are still crooked and you have a bad overbite.  Look at the lines around your eyes, not to mention the bags under them. And your jaw-line has jowls like a mastiff. You sure are getting old. No one likes old women. Your life is over, you know. Finished.  And don’t you think that dress is a little young for you? Who are you kidding walking around in a short skirt.”

“I have good legs,” I answered, my pleasure diminishing and my mood plummeting.

“Oh maybe once you did.” The Voice sneered at me; I could tell by Her tone. “But the flesh isn’t firm anymore and look at those spider veins around your ankle.  Won’t be long before you’ll be wearing support hose like all the other old women. When will you start acting your age? Do you know what a fool you’re making of yourself?”

As rebellious as any adolescent, I wore my short skirt out of sheer spite, but The Voice haunted me and not even the view of my long, well-muscled legs in the glass door nor any number of surreptitious admiring glances could dismiss Her words. Or regain my simple pleasure in my own self.

The Voice is a miserable bitch.

Lately, The Voice has been completely out of control.

As is only natural -- I hope -- I am nervous about the release of my novel, This Bird Flew Away, my first publication in over thirty years, and the lead novel in a series of three. I’m published by Black Rose Writing, an independent publisher, and I’ve worked really hard on the promotion and publicity necessary to get a book out there.  As the time draws near for the book launch my stress mounts.

No one loves my stress as much as The Voice. Sensing my vulnerable state, She moves in for the kill.“You’re going to be a laughing stock, you know. No one’s going to buy this drivel you’ve written.”

“But the reviews have been good,” I argue.

“Who cares about those guys? They’re not the important reviewers.  They wouldn’t even look at a stupid book, published by a small press and written by a nobody.  And don’t forget you are a nobody.”

“I’ve had over one hundred advance readers and they like the book.” 

“What else are they going to say, for crying out loud? You’re such an idiot. Of course they said nice things; they would hardly do otherwise. They all thought it was trash but didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Face the truth for once in your stupid life. No one will read it.”

“The website has had 25,500 visitors in five months. That means people are interested in it.”

The Voice cackles out a mean laugh. “People surfing about the web just stumble on the site. It means nothing. Anyway, I’ll bet that number’s a mistake. The counter is wrong. The proof will come in sales and no one is going to buy it.”

“Yes, they will,” I say, but my heart isn’t in it.

“Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year. For God’s sake, you know the stats. Most of them sell less than one hundred copies. And you think you’re so special, you’ll be the exception. You?”

“I’m not listening to you anymore,” I whine, covering my ears which is a pretty silly thing to do under the circumstances. I repeat my new mantra. “My book is good. It speaks to many people. I did a good job. Lots of people have read it and they like it. It will be a success. I will work hard to make it so. My book is good…”

“Shut up! That won’t work.” The Voice turns up the volume. “You’re a failure. You’ve always been a failure. Remember the time --”

“Go away,” I scream.

“I wish I could,” The Voice shrieks back. “Who wants to share a head with someone like you? But I can’t go away.” 

“Why?” I am ready to beat my head against the wall.

“Because,” says The Voice, “I am you.”

“No. It can't be so.” I want to cry. “Why are You so mean to me?”

“It’s for your own good,” The Voice says in a way that sounds strangely familiar, though I can't tell you why. "I'm only trying to protect you from yourself."

"Oh," I say, wondering if She speaks the truth.

That’s the story of The Voice. She has been my constant companion for the last few weeks. It must be nerves.

That other explanation, the one I ignore? I am losing my mind. There, I’ve said it.

You too have A Voice, don’t you?

Sincerely yours,


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