Today, I was flipping through my archives and saw my Dear Writer post. I almost teared up reading it, just because of the relevance it held with what I was going through today and how it still rang true. I still have those same sentiments. I still want to save the frickin' world. But I've known for a long time that I can't. And last night I went to a friend's apartment for a "Finals are Over, Let's Celebrate!" get-together.
I think I had the most awesome conversation EVER before I left for the night.
I'll tell you why this post is split into two parts. First I have to tell you a story, and then I have to make a point. You see how much time that could take? Days, maybe, and that's if we're lucky. Instead, I'm going to talk to you about what Molly and I discussed here. If you're still interested in my actual point after that (or just wanna skip) go on over to Part II.
Molly is probably a genius. I say this because she was helping me let go of my fear of failing my friends without even knowing she was doing it.
We were talking about art. Molly's an artist. As we were hanging out in her room, I was looking around and saw a painting she'd done hanging on the wall, and without thinking, I'd said, "I wished I were better at art. My mom told me I could be, once, if I had just practiced. Like normal children."
The "like normal children" part was my own invention. Though my mom does think me strange, she'd never compare me to the other children... And Molly wouldn't either. She said, "Well, see, that's the thing I've learned. I often say that an artist has to be in love with the process of drawing or painting or whatever... Not exactly in love with whatever the finished product might be, but in love with every stroke, and every little line, and every second that goes into the process of creating a finished product." (Molly also likes to emphasize things. We are kindred spirits--- either that, or I'm just remembering our convo with lots of imagined italics.)
I told her I understood. "I'm a writer," I'd said, "not published or anything, but I love writing. Every word, every rejection, every painful and excruciating sentence--- I love it. The process of it I mean."
"There you go!" she exclaimed. I agreed with a loud clap and a laugh that almost woke up her sleeping roommate. And I was so excited about where this conversation was going that I went on to include an example about food. I love food, I'd told her, but I hate standing in a kitchen, over a stove, in front of raw ingredients that are nowhere near as delicious as the finished meal.
"So I don't cook," I finished.
"So you probably aren't going to be a chef," she agreed. "But that's okay! It really is! Because some people love the process of cooking. I hate to cook, but I love to bake. I like mixing and pouring and putting things into an oven... And the process you love might be baking,or drawing, or writing, but whatever it is, that's what makes us go one way or another... That's what really separates the ones who are destined for a field from those who might dabble or look on or even just appreciate it... It's all about the process that speaks to us."
My mind... BLOWN.
I've always known that I was strangely obsessed with the process of becoming a published author. Whenever anyone asks me, "Oh! So you're a writer! Are you going to be published?" I laugh at them and say, "Hopefully, one day! But what I really want to do is intern at an agency... I just want to work with books for the rest of my life, wherever that might be."
AND NOW I GET IT. Now, I know why I wave around my rejections like the American flag and enter contests up the wazoo and carry around "BrainBooks" with a pen slipped through the spiral AT ALL TIMES... I get it. I am a frickin' writer. But I'm not only a writer--- I'm a writer destined for the field of writing. I may never be an author but I love the process too much to quit the field. It's my passion. It's my place. It's my home, in a way. It's where I feel the most free and the most happy and the most secure if that makes any sense at all.
And because of this, I've found my own art. Writing. IS. An art.
We writers forget that sometimes. We forget that we're not just "writing novels"--- we're creating. And discovering. Molly went on to tell me she loved art and science. "'Cause if you really think about it," she'd said, "since the beginning of man there's always been this... compulsion to create. This need to discover."
She thinks that's what art and science are. Art is creation and science is discovery. But writing is both. Both creation and discovery.
Join me in Part II of this dialogue if you want to hear my final thoughts on this topic. No reservation required to come on over. :)
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams..."
-Henry David Thoreau