by: Joelle Charbonneau
This week was the first college opera performance for one of my students. While wishing him luck on opening night, I typed the Italian words "In bocca al lupo" and told him if he didn't know the phrase, he should learn it.
Because in opera as in theater, it's bad luck to say good luck. Instead, we say a variety of things.
Break a leg.
In bocca al lupo.
I think the Italian version is my favorite. Literally translated it means in the mouth of the wolf. And the person to whom the phrase is directed should respond with "Crepi il lupo" - May the wolf die!
A bit violent, but a good description of the emotions that go hand in hand with stepping in front of an audience and putting your hard work and talent on the line. It can very much feel like putting your hand into the mouth of the wolf. And trust me when I say you don't want the wolf to come out the victor.
Since having that Facebook exchange, I've thought a lot about stepping into the mouth of the wolf both as a performer and now as a writer. No matter how hard you've worked, there is no guarantee that the finished product of your labor will be well-received. It takes just as much work to put on a bad show as it does a good one. It takes just as many hours (sometimes more) to write a bad book. Just because you put your hand into the mouth of the wolf doesn't mean that you won't get bit.
Writing (and performing) are rewarding. There is something truly wondrous about a kernel of an idea coming to life because of your effort. But with any creative endeavor--there is a risk. There is a good chance that after all the hard work and dedication, you'll fail. The wolf will win.
This week, I started a brand new project. It's something very different from everything I've done up until now. The more I work on the idea, the more I realize that it is going to require a great deal of courage to write. I don't know if anyone will want to publish this book. I don't know if I can do the idea justice. But I'm going to try.
So, like in theater and opera, I am now stepping into the mouth of the wolf. The curtain is going up. If I'm lucky, I will defeat the wolf. If not....I won't regret the adventure.
To all of you who are creating on the stage, the page, or in another medium - I say to you:
IN BOCCA AL LUPO!
And hopefully we will all triumph over the wolf.