Something I wrote for the Clarion Workshop’s application
I don’t think they even have a portion of the application for this.
Why, How, and When I Write
It used to be that the only time I felt like I could write well was when I had this moment of inspiration. You know the feeling. It was my life’s blood. It was the only time I could write anything good, anything emotional, anything meaningful. Trouble was, it only lasted a few hours at most. After that, my muse had other things to do. Flash fiction is the only thing that ever came out of those moments of epiphany. And they were few and far between; the muse only ever graced me every few months. The muse came more often when I was in a writing class. She never came while I was actually doing something for my writing class, but she came in the in-between moments, and I was grateful for her presence, like an alcoholic dad that actually shows up on time for Thanksgiving. Of all the emotions that have come and gone, this is the only one that feels good, true, and right every time.
I took one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests, and it told me what I wanted to hear. I was “rare,” maybe 1-2% of the population, a “perceptive” personality that could sometimes be taken as a psychic. (Score! Possible career path.) “This is like a more accurate horoscope,” my boyfriend said to me. A “writer would be a suitable occupation” for my personality type. I didn’t need this validation; writing was the only thing that ever gave me that divine feeling of doing something totally me, totally right.
At the same time, entirely debilitating, panicky self-doubt struck much more often. Fear was more my goddess than the inspirational muse was. Maybe that’s why she came so rarely, she had to fight off Fear in an epic battle before she could make her way into my psyche. Fear came just as unwarranted as my Muse, but with just as much force. She told me, “You’ll never be Emerson.” “You’ll never be an Orson Scott Card.” “You’ll never be Kelly Link.” I was a padawan trying to break into the game of the greats.
But Fear was right, I would never be any of those things. I would have to make my own way, a way no author could forge for me. I was not destined to write the teen books with girl’s red lips and stylized, glossy names like “Dawn’s Kiss” on the cover. (Shoot me if publishing agencies make that my novel’s, my baby’s, future. Oh wait, you want to give me an advance of $5,000? Put Baby Jesus on the cover, I don’t care!) I am destined to write my ultimate book, the book I wish somebody had wrote. If Philip Pullman, Kelly Link, Holly Black and Orson Scott Card’s book had a baby, it still would look nowhere near as magnificent as this book to me, because this book would actually be a part of me. Actually, I take it back, will you guys all get together and collaborate to write a book? And then, I guess… somehow mate it with another book… and make a baby book.
I don’t believe in god (notice the lower case, I bet you did), but if I had any faith in my little agnostic body at all, this book would be it. My destiny. (Cue sweeping, epic movie score.) The problem was, I could only write when my muse decided to visit, and that was less often than my monthly gift from nature. (Thanks a lot, god.)
People told me to try writing when I was drunk or high, but I knew how that would come out. (Either in Wingdings or something like this, “People are so weird. We all try to look like each other, act like each other, but we’re not. We’re our own selves. I mean, we’re all just like each other in how we try to act like everyone else, but that just keeps us from all being ourselves, from being humans, from being humanists.” Or just an epic MS Paint drawing.) Actually, wait, maybe writing high is a good idea…
I am hungover at the moment. That’s another way to get the Muse to take a stop in my brain; get severely drunk and then Self-Doubt can’t even wade through the muck I’ve made of my mind the next morning. I’m too out of it to really ponder how bad I could be at this thing, how I could never write long stories, how I’d never be the authors I admire. When a hangover set in, I guess I could say it was the truest part of myself.
So anyways, that’s my problem. Musey over there only visits every once in a while, and for a novel, I’d need her to visit for about a year. Maybe more. I read all these things about how to be a writer, because when I’m not writing, it’s about the closest thing to making me feel like I’m actually doing something productive. It tells me to write at least every day. To write a few pages full of rants and bullshit, and then try to be creative after. My problem is, I go on a two-page long rant of what the fuck my boyfriend is possibly thinking when he does something or other, but no real writing comes of that.
In truth, I have 1,001 excuses for why I don’t write everyday. Mostly, Lazy and Self-Doubt are my bffls. You guys are probably the best muses in the world because you visit everyone everyday. There must be 1,001,001,001,001,001——wait, that doesn’t work, does it? It looks more like the matrix——of you and only maybe 10 Muses of Inspiration and Great Novels. For 7 billion people. Good going, god of Writing. And did I mention I have a full-time job? Yeah, I edit other people’s books. Educational books. For 8 hours a day, plus 2 hours+ in traffic, plus the time it takes to talk on the phone or video chat or whatever to keep a pseudo long distance relationship going. I’m supposed to be at work right now. Who created a system where I have to do something for half my day that I hate and then I feel guilty about doing my life’s work because I’m late for the thing that makes me enough money to survive from one measly paycheck to another? Fook you, corporate ‘Merica.
God, I really just want to write something good. Something beyond two pages. Something that will have a cool cover and good content and will make someone else think, “Shit, I could never write that well.” Nah nah nah, not really, just to think anything at all really besides “This is shite.” (Obviously my readers are very worldly, and therefore British. I’ve been listening to too many audiobooks.) No no, they could never think my work is shite, because if I ever actually got around to writing a novel, it would be damn good. I would spend way too long editing and re-editing and writing and editing and editing for it to be bad, unless you were a complete mindless twat. Wanker. With a jammy dodger. (British courtesy of Louise Rennison.)
Anyways, I need a 6-week long writing workshop so I can make Self-Doubt shut the FUCK UP ALREADY and have the Muse of Inspiration at least stick around long enough for me to write something longer than two pages. And writing classes seem to be the only thing to do that for me.
God, did I mention I tried to create a writer’s group using Craigslist? I should have known, but I didn’t, that there were so many goddamn screenwriters in L.A.
I need this workshop. I really want to meet and learn from you, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. And all you other authors too, I need to check out your work. And Clarion West’s authors too. You’re the Muses of Inspiration in disguise, right? I knew it.
I just wrote a two-page-long rant again, didn’t I?
(Please pick me.)