I’ve been feeling nostalgic. I’m trying to prepare to move forward and I’m getting stuck looking back. I’m fairly certain that there are lessons from my past that I haven’t learned and my subconscious is trying desperately to get me to take a closer look. I feel like I have a lot of searching left to do, but so far, I pulled this lesson out of my retrospective analysis.
In my final year of undergraduate study, I had to take a writing class to complete my graduation requirements. I chose a fiction writing class. The first assignment was really difficult for me. I’d written before, but not seriously and I’d certainly never put real passion into any writing.
For our first assignment, I forced a story out of my bones. The class read it and unanimously said it was kind of funny at parts but it was mostly meaningless. I agreed. The professor offered to go through my story and suggest ideas on how to create meaning in it.
We met at his office and talked for hours. This guy was speaking my language. He talked about how stories have to come from something real. You have to be invested in what you write. Be in love with the characters. Have something you want to say. Say it fearlessly.
Before the next big story was due, we had many smaller writing assignments and I went crazy. I couldn’t stop writing. I wasn’t sure if I was infusing meaning or passion into my writing, but I didn’t care. I wrote. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, opened my eyes and typed.
I began my second short story. I started writing about a student walking from his apartment to his final exam before graduating undergrad and moving on to medical school. On the way to his class, he sees a girl fall and questions his entire life. He panics and turns towards the girl to help her, but only for a moment. Then he turns back around and goes to class.
I sincerely have no recollection of writing any part of that story. But I wrote it. All 3100 words of it. I sat at my computer and hours later, there were words on the page. I made no effort to say something important or profound. I did not intend to be fearless. I just blinked and the story appeared.
The class liked this story much better than the first. The professor was happy with my improvement.
After that semester ended (2 years ago), the story faded away from my consciousness. I didn’t think about it anymore. Until last Thursday.
The split second before I woke up Thursday morning, I saw a page of typed words as if I was looking at my computer screen. I opened my eyes. I knew specifically that it was my story on the screen. I figured it was just the end of a dream I didn’t remember. I didn’t think much of it.
Later that day, words and sentences from my story ran through my brain. I found myself daydreaming about it, trying to remember exactly how it went. It was taking over my day. I really wanted to read it when I got home.
I should say here that I’m going to medical school in the fall and I’m terrified. My poor girlfriend has to listen to me constantly rant and rave and try to come to an understanding of what I’m so terrified of. I keep telling her, “I don’t want to make you unhappy when I’m in school.” It drives her nuts.
Ok, so back to Thursday. I came home and read the story I wrote two years prior. It wasn’t the story I remember. This time, I saw that it was filled with anger, frustration, resentment, contempt. This time, I saw that the story was about a self-absorbed student with delusions of grandeur. He’s so obsessed with becoming a doctor and saving people that he ignores all the people around him. He’s a jerk but he hides behind his seemingly noble goals. I don’t want to become him.
There is a level of selfishness that is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve your goals. I wrote a story that outlines a man who personifies this selfishness. It was a warning that I wrote to myself. And out of nowhere, my brain forced me to read it again.
There are two lessons here. First, I’m beginning to understand where my fears are coming from. It will be much easier to avoid becoming so selfish that I turn my back on those I love now that I know what it looks like.
The second lesson is much further reaching. I wrote something and then 2 years later, I suddenly started thinking about it and couldn’t stop. And it helped me to come to terms with a fear I couldn’t quite understand. I’ve been searching my whole life for a way to express myself. I thought it was music for the longest time, but I’ve never looked back on an old song I wrote and felt a powerful message being delivered like I did from that dumb story.
I think the lesson is that I am a writer. As it turns out, when I put on headphones, crank up Deadmau5 and type away, I allow myself to totally be me. I get completely lost in it. For whatever reason, I allow myself to be so completely vulnerable when I write that I spill out fears and dreams and hopes and connections that I didn’t even know were in me.
Of course, this is not to say that I think I’m a good writer. It has nothing to do with that type of judgment. Whether what I write is absolutely terrible or completely amazing, it doesn’t matter because it’s my escape, my release. It’s my way to say the things I can’t say, sing or put into any other type of art form. Good or bad, it has profound meaning to me.
I realize it sounds ridiculous to say, “I think I like to write!” after writing 17 or so blog posts. But it took that moment of being shaken awake by my own writing to show me what I’m actually doing.
I guess starting a blog was a good idea for me. And I’ll keep posting my sporadic ramblings on the Internet. As long I’m writing it, I might as well make it possible for someone to read it.