Will Write for Talent

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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&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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2 thoughts on “Will Write for Talent

  1. Sweetheart (I know that is sexist ageism) you write well. Your wordsmithing and idea flow are well established, but not quite scintillating..yet. We love writing. We love to see the hard copy of those chimeric visions that come floating through our bare conscience. Those “aha” ones where we know we have a unique and valid vision of a truth that must be told. And it must be told. Why would you think that anything in your life is a cliche? Your heart beat, breathing, locomotion, and nutrition are shared in common with all mammals but that does not make them a cliche because nobody does it the same as you. Write, write, and write some more. Find a new word everyday. Make it yours think of ways to put it in stories in your mind. I spent 35 months in Vietnam. I carried one book. The most precious important book on Earth to me. Within the covers you could find all of the words of the greatest English literature, The Thorndike-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. After missions that were steeped in the deepest darkest ennui and others sanguine and horrific, I would escape into the words. I could take astral leave from the reality of war. I was going to write the definitive American novel. Never did.I was going to write short stories. Never did. I therefore, urge youn to write. Learn every word in the English language. Get crafty be an artisanal wordsmith. But most of all find your voice and believe what it tells you. I will share words of wisdom that were shared me from an ancient mind. “It doesn’t matter if it is true or not as long as it is a good story.” I am 70 yrs old and have a terminal auto immune neuromuscular disease. My hands shake I can’t even lift a gallon of milk. But I have lived a wonderful life fill of adventure and excitement, but I wish I would have written more. That is my only regret. So write and don’t share my regrets. Please allow me the privilege of encouraging you. You have the spark. I can see it glowing behind your words.

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  2. Hey girl, I am a left coast born MS woman. My partner of 30 plus years is from left coast SF, in the sixties, the stories he tells. We both write. I encourage him, he encourages me, but neither of us has the get up and go to publish. I do publish more than he does because i self publish, chapbooks, post card poems and the like. I enjoy your writing. We live in a mean ass small southern town, Hazlehurst. We attend city council meetings, and family friendly events. At these events we hand out condoms for free to the young people on the down low. I connect with health care workers (from MS State Dept. of Health) and they give us boxes full of the large lubricated ones. All four highest HIV/AIDS infected states are southern, the MS delta having the largest infected population. Far away from the early days of HIV/AIDS, being limited to SF and NYC. They all got smart. Here in the south, not so much. In the south, In Jackson, I lost at least a half dozen friends to the disease and tended to several as they died. It was no fun. We decided not to procreate because of world overpopulation, plus we were triple careful, b.c. pills, condoms, and the Mucous Temp. method, popularized by Stephen Gaskin of THE FARM in Germantown, TN. The only sex, is safer sex, I think we all have herpes by now, at least in my circle, and his. Keep the words coming and I will certainly read and enjoy them. He is 72 to my 56, so there is very little sex going on, all our folks are dead, so no one really cares. I will say that there are lots of woman run, or should I say Granny run households, full of children born to gals way too young. We are, in fact, in MS, going bass ackwards as far as sex ed. goes. In my High School, it was talked about in Health class, now it is not talked about at all, or rarely. The MS state Dept. Of Health can be your best friend when it comes to these issues. They actually encourage breastfeeding, yet I have never seen any one in this state do it unless they had post grad. degrees. It is all fucked up. Keep on writing and writing. It is easier now than ever to do it. Like the other guy that wrote you about taking the dictionary to Vietnam, Malcolm X took a dictionary to prison and that is where and how he got his education. Partner and I got ours from reading, lots, and talking to older folks here in this mean town. You wd not believe some of the things that go on. That being said, do not ever be ashamed of your sexuality, however it may turn out. And, keep on writing, people are listening, or, reading. Take care. all best, mary

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