Words. And paper. I love them both.
I have been writing since I was a child. In my teenage years, the words morphed into angst-ridden stories and poems of love and loneliness. At 18, I left for college, aimless in every way except geographically. I chose a school but I never chose a life. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I kept journals while away at school. Autobiographical, usually, but always with a bit of wishes and dreams woven in. Maybe I thought writing my every thought would miraculously give me the answer. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I loved writing. I loved creating beautiful things, even beautifully sad things. I thought I finally figured it out. Writing wasn’t the path to my destination. It was the destination. The next time I entered my course selections, I went for it. Creative Writing – Fiction I. But I could not imagine I’d get into the class since it was one of the most popular… and I wasn’t even an English major.
But I got in.
On the first day, I walked into that class, sat down, looked around the room and anxiously waited. The professor walked in and began giving a brief summary of the course. And I totally freaked out. What did I get myself into? I’m not a ‘real’ writer. I have no idea what I’m doing. No one in this room looks panicked. Except me. This is not going to end well.
After landing a coveted spot in one of the most popular classes (if not the most popular), I dropped it. Clearly, high school angst was alive and well and living in my brain. I just knew I could not possibly be as prepared for that class as every other student in that room. Of course, to this day, I have no idea how accurate (or inaccurate) my assessment was. What was clear, though, was my glaring lack of confidence.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I never stopped writing, but I never took that class. I spent four years carving blocks and running them through the giant, somehow comforting, printing press and producing print after print. Some were quite beautiful.
My college days ended years ago (more years than I care to acknowledge). But I still want to know why I had confidence to try new art forms, but I could not take that writing class. I will never know.
So… What do you want to be when you grow up? I never had an answer. I still don’t.