Well before Sarah Jessica Parker taught us everything about sex and friendship, she was on a TV show called Square Pegs. It featured geeky kids who didn’t quite fit in but were the better for it. Watching it with my own children reminded me of the pain of adolescence, which somehow revives itself at the worst moments. Who among us feels supremely self-confident 24/7? Not me.

As a kid I was too smart for my own good and skipped two grades. I don’t think this happens anymore, and that’s probably a good thing. While I was physically well-developed, I’m sure emotionally I could have benefited from a more gradual introduction to the teenage years—like when I was actually a teen. I started high school when I was eleven. I graduated at 15, an age when many kids are just finishing their awkward freshman year. I’m not saying the experience made me crazy, but there are times I wonder about the wisdom of the principal, Miss Charlotte Patterson (who looked exactly like the portrait of George Washington in the school hallway—in fact, I thought it was she until I was in second grade).

In college, things really came together for me, both academically and socially, but there was always that hint of uncertainty. Now I want to hang out with the cool writer kids, and it’s just a touch intimidating. I’m not the baby of the class anymore. In fact, I’m the grandma. Hi, Juliette! Hi, Sadie Jane!

But I remind myself we all start out with a blank screen or piece of paper. We all feel like the ugly duckling sometimes. I’ve just got to flap my wings, morph into my swan-self and float away. And no matter what happens, I’m not going to sink.

Geek? Freak? Or Beauty Queen? I think I can claim all three (Remember, I was second runner-up to the May Queen. A couple of well-placed shoves, and that crown would have been mine.) . Do you think writers have to suffer to succeed? Have you given yourself a deadline for publication? What do you do to boost your self-confidence? Learn your craft? Who is your inspiration? Why am I asking so many questions?

Apparently, I can’t stop. Will you pay $ to see the Sex and the City movie? Have you seen SJP in the ghastly get-up that’s Carrie’s wedding dress? Now I’m done.