I love to write. Writing, for me, is better than that first Christmas morning as a child, when you finally understand who Santa Claus is and you wake up wide-eyed at 5 a.m., run to the tree in all its gift-glory and rip through 20 presents so fast you get hiccups. Then, after all of the excitement in opening presents, you’re heartbroken it’s over and start thinking about when you get to do it again. That’s it – writing, every time for me, is a Christmas present and every time I finish, I can’t wait to do it again.
Writing is sacred and ritualistic; headphones blaring Black 47 and hours of painful, blank staring go into everything I write. Sometimes it takes an hour to get one word written, only to be followed by a two-hour first paragraph and finally – as part of my ritual – a change of mind and a start-over. It’s ridiculous, really. Who the hell do I think I am? It’s as if I think I’m writing the next Bhagavad Gita.
Photographed in my memory is the moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was fourteen and my mother had just told me I couldn’t do something with my friends. How dare she? We weren’t going to be doing just something; it was going to be life-altering something and my mother had no right to tell me I couldn’t do it.
I pleaded my case, begged her and made many empty promises to be a better daughter if she would let me go with my friends and still, the answer was no. Vocal persuasion was getting me nowhere, so in a moment of adrenaline-filled panic, I sat down and wrote her a self-righteous, somewhat self-indulgent, yet poetically-persuasive letter that debate coaches everywhere would applaud.
The letter was good and I knew it. I also knew when she read it, she would see my side and I would be allowed to go with my friends. I didn’t question it; I knew for a fact she was going to read it and change her mind. Leaving the letter in her room, I almost felt sorry for her.
That was the day when I knew I could write. But it was the before – the actual writing – when I knew I wanted to write. It was the thrill and rush of adrenaline I felt as I sat down to write and words filled my head – words that my pen couldn’t keep up with – it was all happening so fast –a euphoric feeling of complete control and complete chaos at the same time; an almost evil euphoria. I was in love. I was in love with the power of my newfound talent. I was in love with writing.
Since then, I have often dreamt (dreamed?) of being the next Virginia Woolf meets Joan Didion meets… Carrie Bradshaw. However, self-indulgent wannabe is probably closer to reality. The truth is I’ll be lucky if I ever find a job where I can write – at least a job where what I write doesn’t include how someone died and where to send flowers.
That doesn’t change what I love to do and it doesn’t change the fact my mother did let me go with my friends that day. So yes, that day is photographed in my memory as the day I knew I wanted to write – now if I could just remember what that “life-altering something” was for which my pen fought so hard.
*Written for an opinion writing class at College of Charleston… but I’m throwing it in here.