On praise and encouragement

One of the things I’ve found strange is the acceptance I get if I tell people about my writing aspirations. Back in Perth I wouldn’t dare tell anyone I didn’t know about it. Somehow it seemed like something to be ashamed of back there. It probably isn’t. Maybe I was always just too shy before and traveling has opened me up enough, given me enough confidence to just be me.

Still, if I did say such a thing in Perth, I’m sure it wouldn’t get the same reaction there as it gets over here. In Perth I imagine a person mumbling: “cool” as the best reaction I could hope for. Not that I think people in Perth are more indifferent than other folk, I just think it surfaces in different ways from place to place.

In any case, people in this hemisphere seem genuinely interested, even excited at the prospect of a wannabe writer. Some express wonderment, wishing they had it in them to do the same, or something similarly creative. The relations took this to a new level. They really took things to heart, took me to all these Irish writer places (restaurants, pubs, etc) and got it into their heads that I’d be writing about them in someway. Some of them had similar interests and wished me luck, telling me not to miss my chances like they had.

It’s all a bit overwhelming. In other cases I might have felt it appropriate to remind myself not to get a big head with all this praise around, but I’m not really in any danger of that. I’ve been so down about myself and my uncertain future for so long, that all this encouragement is kind of exactly what I need to get myself moving in the right direction.

I have to wonder though at the impression I make on people. I’m a quiet guy. Friendly enough, but not too friendly. Open to those around him, but not one to actively seek out others. I wonder what I’m projecting in my appearance and demeanor. I mention this because the other night I was in a pub somewhere in Galway, probably Fibber Magees (and boy would I like a penny for every time I’ve been inside a Fibber Magees!), and my cousin Gareth introduced me to a friend of his. The name eludes me now, but he was an older chap, a professor at the local university and a bit of a character. I think his accent was English, but I was pretty drunk at the time, so I could be mistaken.

He was quite a talker, and he spoke at length about soccer with Gareth, and rambled on about a lot of other things too. We exchanged pleasantries and spoke a little when Gareth was in the bathroom. He ribbed me for looking like such a student, wearing a scarf in a pub. Made a mental note of that one. In any case, we didn’t know all that much about each other, and as the night progressed we both became increasingly smashed. At some point he asked me what I studied and as I answered Gareth chimed in that I was trying to write a novel.

The old man was in to it. He starts going on about how he can tell I’m a smart guy and that I have it in me, and all this stuff. Maybe it was drunk talk, but it’s something I’ve been hearing a lot lately. It kind of scares me because I really don’t consider myself to be all that smart, or all that capable. Then he starts telling me to send him the manuscript when it’s done and he has contacts and he’ll let me know if it’s good or not and he can hook me up with other university and publishing contacts.

Now, that’s a lot to process. Who do people think I am? And am I that person?


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