Thursday, July 3, 2008


When I was very young, though not too young to know better, I got it into my head that I was something of a literary genius. (For that I hope you will show me a little lenience, since most of us, if we’re really being honest, have to admit that at some point in our lives we thought we were destined for great things.) I don’t quite remember where the unfounded notion came from. Perhaps it was because I always excelled in English (and English being the only thing I was any good at, I must have really taken it to heart) or maybe it’s because I was exceptionally shy and, while the other kids were out playing together and having healthy social interactions, I stayed in my room and wrote despondently on my dad’s hand-me-down word processor. Who knows? But somewhere along the line I decided that I was brilliant and that it was only a matter of time before the world realized it, too.

You’d think that by the summer of my 25th year, after dropping out of high school, then finishing up through correspondence, then dropping out of college, then going back to finish my Bachelor’s in English at a much older age than my fellow students, I would have stumbled across the basic truth that I am not, in fact, a genius. But that August as my then boyfriend, Damien, our cat Zooey, and the few remaining belongings we hadn’t given or thrown away made the long drive from Flagstaff, Arizona to Fairbanks, Alaska, I still somehow had it in my head that my moment in the spotlight was sure to come soon. Now that I was starting grad school it wouldn’t be long, I was confident, before my writing simply blew the mind of some Creative Writing professor or other, who would then pass me on to his or her agent, who would sell my book for 6 figures to one of the top publishing houses, who would then market the hell out of me and I would be IN.

(This is the point where I should warn you, in true Lemony Snicket fashion, that if you don’t like true stories about foolish people whose dreams are shot down, one by one, you should probably stop reading now. But if you like to read about dumbass jerks who get what they deserve, and maybe even learn something in the process, read on, my friend; this blog is for you.)

In Alaska, I thought my future would open up before me like the really good book I had yet to write. A masterpiece. I was going to be big, I thought. Phenomenally big. The next J.D. Salinger. People would stand in awe of my much deserved fame and fortune. I was a Writer, capital W. It was my identity, my destiny. And while, if you had asked me, even back then, if I believed in destiny I would have laughed out loud. I would have said, “No way.” But in my bones, in my core, I believed I had “it,” whatever “it” may be.

Oh, come on, don’t laugh. You’ve been there, too. We all have. It’s how you got the courage to send out that first story, and then send it out again, after the first place rejected it. It’s how come you finished that first novel that all these years later you realize is beyond terrible. It’s probably how come you’re reading this blog now, because you can relate.

Alright, go ahead and laugh and I’ll laugh right along with you. Because it is funny, really, to think that on that day, as we pulled into Fairbanks for the first time and my big head was filled with hopes and dreams and visions of my inevitable achievements to come, I had no idea how quickly and completely my entire world view, my image of my Self, was going to come tumbling down.

No comments: