In the last week, two books have made me reconsider why I stopped writing fition. I just finished reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s Flirt–the Afterword of this novelette is a narrative of the author’s writing process. Last week my mind was full of butterflies of worry and distraction in the lead-up to my 5th Year Scholarship interview, and to calm myself down, I reread Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
I remember it had something to do with a bargain I made with myself in high school: that I would wall off those parts of myself which distracted me from success in my high-stress, high-achievement, test-based, awards-seeking high school. I felt that writing fiction could only distract me from the forced-march of papers, applications and tests I needed to ace to succeed in that setting. It was not just writing fiction that I gave up: I turned from folk music to opera, from tree-climbing to wrestling, from Sun-wear to pant-suits.
Staring down the barrel of the real world–at least two years away given my current academic plans–I wonder if I made the right decision, and what I can do about it. Do I start trying to write short stories again, trusting my ability to balance personal writing time with paper deadlines and economics tests? Will I be able to do well in school when I indulge my day dreaming on paper? Can I still write stories?
Don’t misread me: I like who I am and who I have become by surviving and doing well in nameable-achievement-focused communities. But on my better days, I have the suspicion that allowing myself more creative time would only energize my papers for classes. We’ll just have to see if I am brave enough to try it.
“When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader.” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird)