It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. - Ernest Hemingway
I have a whopping 519-page novel sitting on my desk… unpublished. When I look back on it, it sucks—written with all the callow grace of an amateur—but the fact that for an entire decade I had the disciplined commitment to write it is somewhat impressive. I have other unpublished stories that, in efforts to truly understand my protagonists, I’ve nearly sacrificed my sanity to write. I’ve morphed into the mindset of a dying bum in the Tenderloin, a coke-addicted suburbia housewife, and an old and lonely widow who just wants to sing karaoke, to name a few. If it weren’t for that voice in my head that feels the incessant need to narrate every mundane and exciting detail in life (from standing in line at the grocery store to those fleeting seconds just before a man jumps off a bridge), I’d have quit writing a long time ago. The ego can only take so much, after all.
Just before I arrived to that ‘fuck it’ point in life, I received an unexpected success: I got accepted to grad school, into the creative writing program at Mills College. Me—grad school! The punk teen from Chula Vista who used to ‘Abacadaba’ my way through Scantrons had made it into grad school. I was as thrilled as Honey Boo Boo on her birthday. Would a prestigious education open doors to getting published and becoming a successful novelist? Would a professor tell me that maybe my stories would have a better chance if all of my protagonists weren’t depressing lunatics?
My "acceptance glee" was short lived. Fear and self-doubt began to seep like poison through my body as I realized one thing: I got into grad school…and I was terrified.
Next Week: The ‘oh shit’ feeling continues…in a public performance space