I think every angsty young person wants to be a writer or a musician because we think we have something profound to share with the world. We each likely have a parent or a cooler, hipper adult figure in our lives telling us we’re so talented and we’ve gotten something special. They use words and phrases like “visionary,” “truly awe-inspiring,” and “beyond fantastic” to describe what we create, but I don’t know how many of us really believe those words (let alone if the words are genuine in the first place).
I hate being the cliché: a struggling college student with a love of writing and a bad attitude. I read books like Prozac Nation, Girl, Interrupted, and The Bell Jar and wonder if I’ll ever chronicle my descent into mental illness with the same skill and flair as other women writers. Whatever mental illnesses I may or may not have, they aren’t as sexy as drug-fueled party nights or as unpredictable as a personality disorder. My personal story won’t end in suicide, at least that’s the hope.
Despite whatever clichés I embody or avoid, I have simple dreams that I share with thousands if not millions of young people. I want to write, I want to write things people won’t always read. I want to write about my experiences despite having a limited number of them. I want to shake the foundation of what’s possible simply by trying. I don’t have a dream of journalism. I don’t want to report the facts, I want to share facts and use my opinions and eloquence to show my opinions on things that impact my local community and the world.
Most likely I’ll end up working a 9-5 job and write on the side. Conveniently, I’ve never seen suburbia as a nightmare, nor have I desired to live in a high rise with a bottle of bourbon and a cigarette. I’m perfectly find with the standard suburban existence with a house, a partner, two kids, and a cat. That’s not nearly as romantic as starving in a small apartment and counting each penny so I can afford the cover to a poetry reading in a crowded jazz lounge.
I think I wanted to be a romantic much more than I have ever actually been a romantic. I’ve wanted to want to live in New York or Paris and make their history of great writers like my oxygen. Now I live in Oxford, Mississippi, a town with a significant and beautiful history of creativity and writing. I live less than five minutes from Rowan Oak, the historic home of William Faulkner. My failures as a writer likely come from my reluctance to dive head-first into the writing subcultures in the communities I’ve been raised in.
Even as I write this, I fret about the quality of my sentences and paragraphs. I want to write something that pushes people into new thinking, but, more often than not, I end up rambling and hoping someone reads it. I’ll end up spending fifteen minutes thinking of avenues to promote this piece on when I’m not even sure if it ought to be read. They say the best way to become a writer is to write and in the words of Hemingway it’ll happen “Gradually, then suddenly.”
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/30861669@N08/8586202382″>project 52 > nr. 12 – danbo typing</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>