Sometimes I don’t feel like a writer. I mean, I’ve always felt like a “writer.” I’m the kind of person who stumbles across things written about what kind of people writers are, what kind of personalities they have, but I also seek out these articles. I read them, laugh and think: Yeah, that’s about how it is.
But then I also don’t feel like a writer. When I was younger I think I had this idea that writing would always come easy, but even more so, I thought I would always have time for it. Instead I’m juggling papers, midterms, grad school applications, reading through slush piles, proofreading, and a number of other things. When I was putting together my portfolio for those applications, all I could think was how little I had to show for myself. I remembered all the effort I’ve put into what I’ve written and wondered, where did it all go? I thought there was more?
With deadlines approaching, I felt resigned to do the best with what I had. I felt less like a writer and more like a tweaker, worrying over small details in pieces more broadly wrought with weaknesses; I felt like a paper pusher.
Looking ahead to next year, I’m excited about finally focusing on creative writing. Working on my undergraduate degree has begun to feel more and more like imposed procrastination, except in my anthropology and creative writing classes. At the same time, I’m worrying about the coming year. What if I can’t do it? What if, when it comes down to it, I’m a fair weather writer?
I may not be very good at blogging; maybe I’m sharing too many personal worries here. But I had a moment last week and the week before. While working on a paper, I was struck by an idea. I hadn’t been interrupted in this way for a while. There are two things I’ve always wanted to include in writing: my love for the south and my interest in birds. Somehow, standing outside my apartment, these two things merged with a detail from my father’s past. I developed this idea, rolled it over in my mind, and combined it further with an image born of them, of an ending. I always have trouble knowing how to draw ideas I have together in the end.
I typed up the initial beginnings so I wouldn’t forget them, then moved on to work on my paper. The next day, I added to it; a few days later, I reorganized, trimmed, specified, and rounded out what I could. The following week I read it in a creative writing workshop. I finally felt deeply good about something I had written, for the first time in a while. I’m still going to work on it a little more, but I feel like it’s nearly there.
I need these little reminders sometimes, to prove to myself I’m not crazy for wanting to pursue this wonderful and frustrating profession, and to show myself what I’m working towards. Wherever I find myself next year, I will carry the memory of them with me.
P.S. For those who have completed or are working towards a graduate degree in creative writing, how did you choose the school? In my decision, I think I have come to the issue of deciding between: a) professors with similar interests about writing content and external projects, in a program allowing writers to experiment with prose, poetry, or screenwriting, but with only set required classes; and b) classes already focused on prose, in a program which includes optional courses to focus on things like the short story. Any suggestions?