Do you know what I’m really rubbish at? Compliments. I don’t mean giving them out. I’m free and easy with my complements and if I think something is brilliant, then I say it. What I’m pants about is receiving compliments.
It happens, every now and then. But lately people have been reading my book, and even better, buying it. And they’ve been ever so nice about it and told me so. And I’ve done that thing that people do, you know, automatically apologising and saying that it could be better, or some other attempt at humour.
So a friend took me aside a couple of weeks ago and told me that I need to work on this. This whole receiving complements business. Lord knows, it doesn’t happen often over the course of a lifetime.
Smile, they said. Smile and say thank you.
I mentioned this to another friend and he suggested I just put my thumbs up in recognition. To be honest I might not do this.
Another friends says, well, that’s all very well and good, but how are you at taking criticism? You must, they said, ominously, be prepared for that if you’re having a career in performance and doing things in front of the general public.
They’ve got a point.
The other day I received a couple of compliments about my performance style. I was very glad about this because this is the area I’ve been concentrating most on lately. I’ve even gone so far as to get advice from a theatre director, who has been watching me rehearse and gives me fantastic advice about movement and emphasis and all that sort of thing.
I didn’t go to drama school and I never even took drama during GCSEs. I acted in one play in 2009, but that’s as far as it goes when it comes to performance skills before I started all this poetry malarkey.
So I had to watch endless videos and YouTube clips and read all about the finer points of performance, and of course, I had to practise a lot, both on stage and in my room.
The compliments I received were:
1 – You never move your feet when you perform.
2 – I love the way you have perfected that tone of voice as if you’re ever so slightly nervous.
Now, the first thing there, the moving feet thing. I’m glad about that. My director Ziggy told me that this was most important and during rehearsals he’d shout, ‘Feet!’ if I started to move. So I’m glad that someone noticed.
But the second thing . . .
I always felt I sound confident and that this is an important aspect of my performance. And feeling confident makes me feel good about what I’m doing. But the person who said this was the mother of a fellow performer, and someone that I respect a lot.
So then I started thinking, well, maybe perhaps that’s my voice. Maybe that’s a trademark of my style which I’ve never noticed before. Maybe I should build on this.
So I started trying to sound a little nervous on purpose, but that just made me feel nervous. And then I’d get nervous about not sounding nervous enough. So I’d try to overcompensate by sounding confident but then I’d get nervous about not sounding confident enough. And that made me feel nervous, so I’d over compensate again. And now I have no idea where I am.
I’ve decided not to think about it. I’ve decided just to carry on where I am and the apparent nervousness (which I’ve never recognised) may come out during performance, or then again, maybe it won’t.
The last thing I need to do is write a blog post about it.
You see, I think I sound confident. And that’s good enough for me. I’ve decided not to worry about these sorts of things!