This is exactly what my writing career has felt like:
At first, I dreamed it—and I dreamed it so strong and big I thought there’s no way it can’t happen.
Then I invested in it: time, money, energy. Grad school was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and if anyone wanting to write—SERIOUSLY write (can do nothing else and will die otherwise and strives to write the best that the world has ever seen and known)—is entertaining the thought, I highly recommend low-residency programs like the one I went to.
Then I waited for the giant burst of self-actualizing success to come: I’d dash off a brilliant memoir the likes of which had never been written before! Something like Mary Karr’s poetic treatment of her fucked-up childhood meets Amy Hempel’s sparse, startling sentences meets Miranda July’s fearless multiform art! I’d land an agent in a heartbeat and be the first graduate picked up by a major publishing house!
But instead came doubt. And doubt tied my hands. And the memoir moved from the page into my head, where it farted and belched with a noisy stink that I ignored, but which curled my lip into a perpetual sneer.
And I downplayed my strengths. I worked for nothing. I worked very hard for a little more than nothing (although this was, in itself, a kind of training. A writer must learn to cut wood—heaps and heaps of precise timber, hundreds at a clip, with no room for imperfection or thinking. It’s how one becomes an expert whittler—which is what many of the finest writers are.)
I never lost my momentum, though, and one day I rolled into the right situation, where my value was seen and my talent fully appreciated. And then again…and that gave me even more momentum, and then more…
And then my prices went up.
(Writers will notice this clip is also a metaphor for the process of writing. Elusive, elusive, elusive, then bang! Things happen and make children scream.)
- What is the driving ethos behind almost every Coen Brothers film?
- Even “Raising Arizona”?
- …really? Okay, I can see that. Yeah, you know what, I definitely see it.
- Should children be allowed to roam the streets freely after school?
- Define the shopowner’s decision to raise the price of the hula hoop in terms of capitalism: Should health care and education be privatized, according to your findings? Discuss on Facebook until people start blocking you.