For a while now, Brian, Boston Court Marketing and Development head/playwright/my boss, has been on a mission to make me a writer. I don’t know when or why this endeavor began but it’s resulted in quite a few cool books and plays being thrown my way as how-to’s or possible sources of inspiration. It’s a very generous undertaking on his part, and at once more impossible and yet nearer completion than he might currently imagine.
See, the thing is, when I was sixteen I apparently wrote this thing which now resembles a book. This was in a time before career pressure or even the thought of getting published as a way to make money or stick it to ex-boyfriends even entered my mind: it was all about trying to tell the most interesting story I could possibly come up with. A lot of overwrought plot lines and awesomely bad dialogue ensued. Fortunately and unfortunately, though, I got older, which meant that my edits got better but also that my standards and awareness of what constitutes good writing raised the bar to at times impossible heights. What I have now is a story I really like, despite all its flaws—both the obvious ones and those I lack the subtlety to pick up on—and maybe because of some of those flaws. The sort of juvenile, freakishly honest tone of the writing always freshly reminds me of the way I used to talk, think and generally behave. I listened to a lot of emo and thought of this as a virtue, but I digress. I’m left with a 300-page document that may not constitute high literature, but it encapsulates me as a teenager.
And yet no one knows about this thing weighing down my hard drive. The pushes keep rolling in from teachers, parents and now bosses telling me to jump in and write something, but the opposite keeps happening. Whenever my mother reminds me that the next great American novel needs writing, I very maturely skulk on up to my room and watch whatever’s on tv, leading to my near-memorization of the Magic Bullet infomercial.
I don’t fully understand what seems so unappealing about writing, but it’s always seemed slightly sickly and pathetic to me. Pouring forth thoughts from within one’s head onto feels way too open, needy even, and it’s added to the hubris inherent in the act of making thoughts tangible and so suggesting that they’re worth others’ attention. It’s embarrassing to me when others know when I’m writing, as if it were some deeply private and vaguely graphic process, like childbirth, which everyone insists is beautiful yet no one actually wants to watch. Maybe I’m embarrassed because writing can be so difficult, and to try so fervently validates whatever ideas or emotions I’m trying to convey, whether they deserve to be validated or not. That’s the scary part, and it’s much easier to sit quiet and be cynical.
And, of course, having consistently been the Resident Future Novelist in all of my English classes, there is a huge risk in actually creating a novel to the best of my ability. Here is the proof, absolute and tangible, of what I can do, which can be judged as being off the mark more accurately than my intentions can be. There is always room for improvement, of course, but that takes quite a lot of time editing and crumpling pages and stewing in rich self-hatred when I could otherwise be making criminal amounts of money in a more buttoned-up profession.
I don’t mean to sound like I’ve entirely given up the prospect of writing. In fact, the opposite has happened, for reasons I can only guess at. I suppose it has to do with the fact that everyone here at Boston Court has dreams and goals that aren’t cynical, that have nothing to do with bathtubs full of cash, and they talk about them without embarrassment. Or maybe it’s that this summer I learned that real work is nothing like school—it doesn’t break down into Success or Failure; trying is a process that can last years, whereas the longest I’ve ever spent at it has been the duration of an exam. It could also be that these people I spend forty hours a week with have heartily disproven my belief that once you’ve reached a certain age, throwing in the towel on your wildest dreams is the mature, adult thing to do. Anyway, for one reason or another, I’ve dusted off what I wrote four years ago and have been shining and polishing for much of the summer. The next step, which I started last weekend, is to try to bring it into the light of day—not for the money or the looks on the exes’ faces, not even because of the prompting of knowledgeable adults. It’s because I really have no idea why these adults would try so hard, would draw smiley faces all over my creative writing assignments or write long letters to me about my senior project or bring books in for me to read. There’s got to be a reason, though, and before I condemn myself to a life spent drafting loans, I owe it to them to figure out what that reason is.