April 14, 2009

A Word After a Word

I drove down Lincoln. It was cold and foggy. There was a lot of stuff I passed. The day begins.


I turned onto Lincoln Avenue, barley able to read the street sign through the deep and chilling fog. To my right, a delivery truck was parked outside a Greek house, sending bulk groceries inside. To my left, a bicycle splashed across the puddles on the sidewalk in a flash of color. Behind me, thoughts from yesterday broken by the rubber tires. Straight ahead, the university, barely able to contain its life and energy even at such an early hour. The day begins.

This was my morning commute to work. It sounds extremely dull. Beefed up (and still not adding or embellishing),  it could sound like the opening of a story. I am starting to wonder if I'm at the opening of my own.

It was on Easter Sunday, to be precise. I was at church with my dad, happy to have a reason for the white dress I bought impulsively. Down the hall, I ran into an old high school friend who I've only seen a couple times since 16. She's bouncy, with a bouncy haircut and a bouncy personality. She gave me a hug, and asked how my job was going. "You're at the News-Gazette, right?" I sighed and laughed. "No, I wish! I'm working at Carle, actually." In one breath, she said, "Really? You wanted to go into that stuff, though, right? You should go back to school for it! Listen to me, telling you what you should do! But you were such a good writer in high school! No, seriously, for me to remember that means you were!" I sat in the pew, listened as she and and the rest of the choir sang, and thought this over.

I remember the things I would have written in high school. Horrible. Unfathomable. Incoherent. The papers I turned in and the diary entries I scribbled were worthless. I've kept a diary since I was nine years old, thinking then that I would be as famous as Anne Frank (though I hoped for just the brilliance of my writing, not for the rest). As each book was closed and stored away, I would laugh at the silly things a year-younger me had scribbled, talked about, or found interesting. This continues to be the case, and I find myself cringing at journal entries even six months ago. It's a rough blueprint for someone who loves to write.

Originally, the plan was to get a nursing degree. This is tradition. My mom is a nurse, and three of her four siblings are nurses. It just makes sense to fall in line the same way. Nurses are guaranteed jobs and make decent money. However, not including my lack of interest in Anatomy 1 and horror of anything science related, the tell tale sign was my like of the nursing language. I love using "MVA", "stat", and "spondylolisthesis". The delight in this area (and this area only of nursing) should have been apparent to me much sooner than this week. It was not.

Here I am now, sitting at a desk and mulling over transcript requests and course descriptions. I am seriously considering doing what I have always wanted to do, and this scares me. Journalism is not nursing. It's not as simple as pass/fail. There are no medicines to measure, or buttons to push, or instruments to sterilize. There are techniques that could greatly improve what I have to say and how I say it, but in the end it will still boil down to me. It's this thought that has kept me away from accomplishing anything huge before. When the tiny bits I have written were published, it was a huge sigh of relief not to be criticized, even though I look back now and feel my cheeks flush with embarrassment. If someone doesn't like my writing, the feeling is that they don't like me. Writing is too personal to separate the skills from the person. I receivecompliments about my writing the same way most people receive them about anything-I'm grateful, I revel in it, and I think they're probably lying. I always wonder what they really think.

I could never be on the stage shouting lines to a barley visible audience, but I could write for anyone and anything with bravado. As scary as it is to think about someone tearing my paragraphs or poems apart, it's the most amazing thing to have my words read and identified with. For someone to identify with them, and publish them, and pay me for them? What in this world can compare?

Maybe somewhere down the road, you'll see my name in a byline in the News-Gazette. Maybe I will have a dozen copies of my new book on hand, giving you a signed copy to gather dust on your bookshelf. Maybe I'll be the poet that gives a breath of life to the poetry community. Maybe none of this will happen. It is unlikely to the point of laughter. But, just maybe, it is possible someday.

"A word after a word after a word is power." -From 'Spelling' by Margaret Atwood

2 kind comments from you:

Nicholereo333 said...

I've always kept a journal too since like the 1rst grade, but most of it is not for the human eye

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