Friday, February 18, 2011

I see the Stop Sign, but where is the Go Sign?

You know that thing when you are thinking about something so much that you start to see signs of it everywhere? And you can't tell if it is just because you're thinking of it or if there is some deep meaning behind it all? I'm doing that.

I've been at a crossroads with my writing, my future goals, back to school or not, freelance or not, finish a novel or give up, go back to corporate work or work for myself. All the possibilities are out there but I can't seem to shove myself towards any of it.

So I have been thinking about the pursuit of writing a good bit lately. In many ways it feels like a new thing and somewhat self-indulgent. Who I am to want to be a writer? Then I remembered something that happened my freshman year of college. I turned in the first essay for my AP English Lit class and was very nervous about it. The instructor was quirky and intimidating and actually English, which made her an absolute authority in my mind. The day she passed the graded essays back, she walked around the class handing them out with a comment for each person. She'd stop at each desk, drop the paper, and then say something about it. Out loud. She handed out all of the papers except for mine. I was horrified. I was sure that my essay was so bad that she was going to wait until after class to pull me aside and tell me to drop the class, that I didn't belong in a college level honors program.

Instead, she placed my paper on the overhead projector.
And proceeded to read it out loud to the class.
As an example of how to write an essay.

Yesterday, Girlie came bursting in from school saying that it was the best day ever. She was excited about a story she'd written for an open writing prompt. Then she told me about an open response essay she'd written to practice for the upcoming statewide achievement tests. Her teacher had shown her essay to the class as an example of how to do it.

So I don't think it is a sign, really. I don't believe in that stuff. The universe is too busy to give a crap about whether I figure this out, I have to do that for myself. And the thing that happened to Girlie happened to her, not me.

I had the chance back then to follow what I was passionate about. I choose business because it seemed safer. Because people were making good money in information technology coming right out of college. Because there were good internships and I didn't want to depend on my parents financially. Because my then boyfriend, now husband, was in engineering school and working with computers made me feel smarter, more like him. Because I cared about what other people thought. Because I needed a straight path to achievement.

But when Girlie told me the story I thought maybe she'll be a writer. As in, maybe she'll actually get to do it. And a felt a horrible pang for myself, that sad feeling you get over the loss of something important, which was strange, because I haven't given up on it yet. But then maybe I haven't fully committed to it either.

All the stop signs in the world, and bam, just like that, there was my go sign. Now I just need to stay focused on it.


Anonymous said...

You go! That's me honking from the car behind ya.

Allison Kruskamp said...

The fact is, you ARE a writer. A really smart one. And I'm so glad I have a front row seat to watch it all unfold.