It was only an English 2 assignment. It wasn’t the start of a great novel nor was it under the realization that I ultimately wanted to be a writer. It was just an assignment that I was seriously stuck on until the Saturday before it was due. I had to write a memoir piece about myself. After an incident two years before involving my writing being discovered by my mother, I was a little shy about writing, especially about myself. The past is not pleasant and my mother does not like dirty laundry being aired out. But I couldn’t help it. I had to write. It was a release that was better than all of the bad things a young adult could get themselves into. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t hesitant when this assignment came up.
For those who don’t know which piece I’m talking about, it’s in the prose and publications sections of my portfolio called “Photo Album”. As I said before, I was stuck. I didn’t know how to write about myself, especially in a form other than poetry. I was sitting around in my room when I looked over at the dresser and saw pictures of myself. It stuck me right there and then: What if I wrote my memoir as if you were looking at a photo album? Would I be able to pull it off?
It took a couple of hours, but I did. For some unknown miracle, it worked. I was even able to pull off a smooth transition from third person to first person throughout the piece (though I had no clue I was doing something so impressive until my professor told me so). When my professor offered to help me published it in one of the college's publications, I was absolutely stunned. I had hoped he would like it because I wanted an A, but to have it published meant that my writing had real potential.
Potential...I still feel like I am in the potential stage.
Forget about what I've published through my journalism classes. Most were good, solid stories that were important enough not be discarded as just an assignment and were runned. But that's all staged for the degree.
Don't point out the literary publications through college publications. While some hold merit because it went through a submissions process, others were a part of a collective that probably would have published you no matter what.
The ones outside of school are the dearest to me. Sending your stuff out to the literary world is scary. Most publications that you admire will reject you. A few will take a chance on you...which I am so happy that they have.
Then what is the problem? Where am I going with this?
Let's go back to my first sentence: I published my first piece of writing in 2005. I was 19 and I had a hunger inside.
I was 19 and I had a hunger inside.
Currently I am 26. I've been writing poetry since I was 13. At some point, I kept count of how much I have written. The number was over 500 pieces. I discovered this around 19, 20 years old. I wouldn't be able to give you a number now.
Now I have a number that haunts me. 32. That is the number of poems in my chapbook manuscript that I am about to shop around. These are 32 poems that hopefully will touch a small press publisher who will be willing to take a chance on my writing and help represent it. I want this more than anything in the world.
But the hunger is not the same. Though I think the concept of hunger isn't right...
I am afraid. The fear is taking over...that's it! The fear...
I was fearless at 19.
Fearless and inexperienced. All I knew was that I was writing. Technique wasn't important. Content less so at times. I just wrote. I wrote so much that I'm suprised that I had time for anything else. When I asked myself would I be able to pull this off, there really wasn't answer. It was just done. I had my reservations, from what I was writing about to if it would be good. But I didn't dwell. I wrote. I wrote and I wrote and in between, I got published.
I don't think publication had the same meaning at 19 than it does now at 26. I wrote without thoughts of publication at 19. At 26, I write a haiku and I think: What if I sent this out? Would it get published? Would someone be impressed?
Having that mentality contributes to not taking a lot of opportunties and risks. I don't even blog the way I used to. I could blame it on the fact that I am choosing to settle down in a job that is not in my career path so I can take care of members in my family and so I can make and save money to gain independence and to fund many of the projects I have started and not been able to finish. I really could.
But after I settle into the routine of having a permanent job and making an annual salary, if I haven't been writing, especially because I am afraid that I am not writing publishable pieces, who do I really have to blame?
I can't blame my job. I'm not there 24/7. I can't blame publications, when I do send out work, when they reject me. I haven't been keeping up to the practice of writing. I'm letting the sillest fear get in the way of what I am really meant to do: write!
I have to write. I have to have that hunger that I had when I was 19. I have to be fearless and dump a little bit of the knowledge I have in my head. I need to write without worrying about this and that mistake. Experience may be a teacher, but does it prevent us from taking risks?
This is something I need to work out while I hunt for a publisher. After someone takes a chance on my baby...I need to follow up eventually. And there will be no book two if I let the well run dry.
There won't be growth either. So for the rest of this year and the next, my goal is to find the hunger again with reckless abandon.
Cheers to taking chances.