So, last night I dreamed that I was kind of in the cast of Glee. I say "kind of" because, in the dream, that life was real. I was a real high school student in a glee club, and I was surrounded by immensely talented people, whose abilities I truly respected and looked up to. However, it took place in my old high school--Williamsville South--not the high school they go to on TV (whatever that is, idk).
I was walking through the halls of the school, vaguely aware that I hadn't been there in a long time because I'd been fired (dream logic! I guess it was equating the status of "student" with "employed") but I was there, during passing time, wandering among the students, when someone from the glee club informed me that I would be performing a duet with them later that week. I don't remember the song--I'm not actually sure it was a real song anyway--but I remember it was pretty soulful and powerful, like Janis Joplin style, only without the, um, Janis Joplin-y voice.
Anyway, I imagined myself having to sing in front of the class, and I felt a panicky mix of elation and terror. I felt like I know that if I was in my car by myself, I could totally belt out that song like a fucking champ...but in front of people? I'll mess up. They'll hate it. I can't do it. Then it occurred to me in a dream-logic way that I hadn't seen myself perform on Glee all season, and I realized it was because I was just an extra, a background singer at best. I might have enjoyed singing, and maybe even thought I was pretty good, but I'm nowhere near as talented as those kids.
And yet there was still that strange elation...
I imagined singing the song, putting everything into it that I had, come what may. I was scared of what would come out of me, that it would be too big, too powerful, too alarming. I was afraid that, in my passion for the song, I'd hit some note that would scratch just the wrong way, making people uncomfortable. But even though the idea of trying and letting it all loose frightened me, I knew I wanted to do it. Maybe I wasn't going to sing my song like they would, and maybe I couldn't sing it as well as they could (in the way that they would), but I thought I could sing it well the way that I could sing it, and the way I wanted to sing it. Only, the way I could sing and wanted to sing--I knew a lot of people wouldn't like it.
But I still really, really wanted to try. I wanted to do it. I just didn't know if I could.
I was terrified.
But I wanted to sing.
I was terrified.
But I still wanted to sing.
Could I do it? Would I do it?
Panic. Panic. Panic.
And then I woke up.
You know, I like to think that I would have been brave enough to sing. But I honestly don't know. And yet in some ways, I think I'm preparing for my performance right now, as I get ready to release my second novel. I don't doubt that The Hierophant is a novel that will hit strange, unexpected notes in the reader's mind. But I like those notes, and I like the songs that carry them. I like when a song is not a perfect balance of verse and refrain. I like performances where the singer's voice breaks from her expression of need, of feeling, and leaves a note hanging in the air like the torn edge of a love letter, ripped in half.
And I think there are others out there who like those kinds of songs, too.
And I hope they'll sing their songs the way they want to, too.