A few years ago, I told a close friend en toute confiance (confidentially) about my dream of writing a novel and my plan to begin that fall. Rather than looking at me like I was crazy, she was excited for me, and very encouraging. A short time later, she gave me a song to play for inspiration, a few lines of which I quote:
“I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned. Staring at the blank page before you. Open up the dirty window. Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find.”
– Natasha Bedingfield, “Unwritten”
I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself as a writer, but I believed in my idea. I had a finished outline, and I had the time to work. And I had a passion for my story.
So I sat down and stared at the blank page — on my computer screen — and began.
I also confided in another friend who knows me well. She said: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.” Believing in myself — la confiance en soi — has been always been difficult, no matter what my accomplishments or abilities. I’m usually quick to listen to those who say I can’t, and slow to prove to myself that I can.
But like Jenny, the main character in my recently published novel MAKE THAT DEUX, I like to challenge myself. I wrote the first draft that school year. Later, as I worked on revisions (and on my next novel, a Thriller), I decided to re-learn to speak French.
Even though I had once spoken it fluently, I had just moved to a place where few people spoke French. With lack of use, my French-confidence started to wane. Others’ lack of impression with my ability to speak French translated into my lack of belief in it and myself. As the years passed, I lost much of my ability and knowledge of the language as I got (and stayed) busy, with life.
De toute façon — anyway — over a year ago, I let a French friend know of my wish to study the language, and he recommended a small weekly class. I met with Madame, and soon I was doing devoirs — homework — organized in a binder. I started using French language apps on my iPad. I met and began a friendship with Zeina, my mother’s Lebanese neighbor; because she is so agréable, we speak French when we rendez-vous.
And last summer, when my husband and I spent ten days in France, I tried my French at every opportunity…and I had many.
Le résultat: Though I still (at times) struggle with the simplest phrases, I’ve increased mon vocabulaire considerably. And although I continue to say (even en français) that “I don’t speak it well,” mon prof de français (and Zeina) insist that I do. It’s a question of confidence, not one of ability. But I continue to study, speak, read and learn.
“Today is where your book begins.”