“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” – Joan Didion
So, I’m about to write a crazy sentence, and the sentence is this: I rarely ever write exactly what I think, what I feel, what I know. I cover things up and compartmentalize. I shade truths. But I never feel right about anything until I get it down in writing.
And that’s what’s been nagging at me lately (or maybe it has always been with me). Maybe it’s because I’m strange, and I think of strange things often. My reoccurring thought as of late is, if for some reason I was afflicted with amnesia but nothing and no one else changed around me, would I like my life? Would I change anything?
I know it seems like a trite situation, right? But I think it’s a valid question.
So I took stock of things. I still am not a people-person. I would not aspire to have more friends or be more social. I love my friends, my (seriously, for real) close-knit circle. My family? 9 out of 10 randoms agree they’re good eggs. I’d keep them. I’d keep the boyfriend, because even if I didn’t know who he was I think I’d still continue to love him fiercely. My job? … would be terrifying if I had to do what I do, but didn’t know what the fuck I was doing or who any of those people were.
One night, my sister and I were talking about this and she asked me if I could do anything for $200K, what I would do. I automatically said, of course, that I’d write a book. Because, duh. But the truth of the matter is that I just want the book to be written, without my actual involvement. Check now, please.
So I made a compromise with myself. I’d try to go back into freelancing while still working at my day job, because money and I likes it. I wrote music reviews for four years, quite by accident. At the time, I was working for a guy who knew a girl who was starting an online magazine. He just said to her, “That’s Amanda. She likes music and she likes to write.” And, for no apparent reason, she took a chance on me.
I could have tried to turn it into other gigs, but I didn’t. I wrote strictly for that publication, and when my life and my full-time job got in the way of it, I bowed out. I wrote in this very blog from time to time. It seemed to be enough.
But it wasn’t.
I signed up for a couple freelancing sites, but they annoyed the fuck out of me. No, I don’t want to ghostwrite your e-book about your 100-pound weight loss journey. No, I have no interest in researching tractors. No, I don’t want to edit your novella about a vampire who came from outer space. Yes, I want to post to your social media sites all day but no, I don’t have the mental capacity to tweet a Facebook post which has been Instagrammed. People will say this is a big no-no. You want to write? Then WRITE. Anything. Write about trees having existential crises if you goddamn have to.
But I just couldn’t. I am a product of that generation which says, “Um, that really doesn’t, like, interest me right now? Maybe later. OH LOOK SOMEONE MADE TIC TACS LOOK LIKE LEGOS.”
So I stopped looking at freelancing sites. Lately, I’ve just been Googling random shit like, “Write for mental_floss,” sending an e-mail off into the aether, and hoping for the best while knowing there’s no way I’m getting anywhere.
I know… positive fucking mental attitude. It’s true. I know. I’m trying to think positive. All this rejection (or, at least, rejection by no response) will be a great story someday, when the youngins ask me, “Did you ever get discouraged?” And I will say, “All the fucking time. No one wanted me.”
And I wish that I could brush it off, believe in myself, and have it be enough. I’ve always thought that I was good. I’m a good writer. Six other people (mostly my loved ones) think so as well. But I never seal any sort of deal. I get weary of putting myself out there just to get a “No,” or a “Sorry,” or a “Hey! I applied to Pitchfork in 2010 and they never responded to me. Forgot all about that. Bastards.”
So maybe I just don’t have what it takes. (Example: I just applied for a freelance thing today, and when I was asked about my education history, instead of listing that I attended school from 2003-2007, I wrote 4. That’s right. I attended school for four years. My brain was so dead that I didn’t even realize my mistake until I was at home this evening. LET ME WORK FOR YOU I AM SMRT.)
Except… that I do. This isn’t delusion at work. I can take pretty words and make them form coherent, sometimes beautiful sentences. I’ve gotten compliments on my writing. Professionals have even starred the ones they’ve liked. I’m not a great fiction writer, but my non-fiction stuff, the things I know… that seems to resonate. And there’s never really a shortage of material. I’m awkward, I’m weird, my life is terrible and sad and perfect and lovely and awesome. Compelling stuff, truly.
I don’t need to be the next Joan Didion or John Green, or some other author whose first initial is J.
But it would be nice to be recognized, a little.
Not like, “let me Snapchat you in the grocery store even though your bra strap is sliding off your shoulders,” recognized. That would be awful and likely result in me throwing a box of mac and cheese in someone’s face.
So, I’m going back through my old writings and reformatting them, trying to make them more substantial and less blog-posty (I’ve always been a fan of short and sweet. I like to tell and not to show. It’s a flaw. Whatevs).
My hope is, that after some work, I have something I can truly be proud of.
And maybe, if I really put that positive mental attitude to work, no will turn into yes and I’ll get the “Try of the Year” award. (That’s not real. I made it up. I told you I was creative.)
So, everyone, put your best good-karmic-thoughts out there for me and this writing thing I feel compelled to do, in all of its silent, rejection-y glory.
Have a good night, friends. Follow your passions. Unless you’re terrible at it. Like, don’t play tennis if you’re just gonna become concussed. Start out with badminton instead.