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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Friday, August 27, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 11

Right. So today was all about running in place, and getting nowhere.

I got no writing done. No studying (astronomy final is next week). In an effort to BE a writer today, I did send my rough rough draft of the column submission off to a trusted pair of eyes. Not a formal edit or anything, just a plea for feedback.

I also wrote to my last hope for a recommendation. During the layoff year, I took several writing classes at Austin Community College. Most of them were online, and I only ever met one of my online instructors and she said no when I asked for a recommendation last year.  My second collegiate recommendations last year came from one of my other online professors. (The first was from the professor that I took classes from in person, and she and I still communicate, though too infrequently). I feel like a chart would help. But I don't have the energy to fight with paint.

Creative Writing Teachers I have known:
1. Took in-person classes, worked together > recommending? Yes
2. Took online classes, met once to talk about grad school > recommending? No
3. Took online classes, never met > recommending? Yes

The thing is, I feel awkward asking Professor 3 again. She doesn't even know me. And yet, Obi Wan, she seems to be my only hope. All that to say that today, I mustered up the courage and sent her an email. Hopefully she wants to send a letter, and hopefully it is one that actually recommends me.

Ultimately, today was ruined by work: my day-job, more specifically. It's work and I get that it isn't supposed to be fun, but today was one of those days where I feel like I am in Metropolis or 1984--stuck in the rut I have been assigned for life. I couldn't shake the feeling that what if, I mean WHAT IF, this is as good as it's going to get? What if I peaked professionally, got shit-canned, and now I am just clawing as I slide backwards down a cliff (as desperate an act as it is futile)?

Maybe I am just like one of the "hobbyist" writers from the workshop--no, I didn't forget, but I am too disjointed today to write about that experience--except, I am still young enough for delusions of grandeur. I'm writing all my terribly interesting stories, and I'll put them in a newsletter for the nephews. Someday I will self-publish a book called "A funny thing happened one time (and then never did again)." Just kidding! It'll be called "Truisms."

Lots of people have dreams of second- and third-printing types of publication, translated into Japanese and German type dreams, a collector's anniversary reissue with a CD from readings which also features some really great songs that were written by all your favorite bands who were inspired by the book dreams--and lots of really good writers never see those dreams come true. Even just to be able to write for my JOB is so astronomically unlikely (and believe me, I know from astronomical) as to easily qualify as a pipe-dream-without-so-much-a-pipe.

Meanwhile, she said, steadying the kitchen sink on the windowsill: Already I am putting too much on school. School won't save me. It'll get me out of town, and focused on the task at hand, and give me lessons to absorb and the chance to get better at giving and getting feedback. But it won't save me from having to work a shitty job that I don't care about for MOST of the time. It won't magically make me a writer. It might even do what art school did to my career as an artist (anyone need their computer fixed?)

I have been asking this for over two years now: what if this is a dumb idea? Will I still be asking in ten years? Or will I be a crazy lonely cat lady before then, walled in my room by manuscripts that say the same word over and over: when when when when?

I mean, this is making me a writer, this right here. Right? But fuck if the rest of life isn't so completely in the way. Will it alway? This whole week I have been racing. And I have nothing to show for it yet (besides a draft, says the Devil's Advocate).

Fucking hell.

The beatings will definitely continue if moral has not improved by tomorrow.


dbostrom said...

Perhaps you may enjoy this article.

Meanwhile, it's not too late to change the name of this series to something a little more realistic, like "6570 Days Of Being a Writer."

Chelsea said...

Did you just call me old, or slow?

I did enjoy that article, thank you! I like Gladwell to begin with, but I especially like hearing my process described in a way that doesn't sound completely futile.

Also. If you know of any lonely wealthy lawyers, you know, holla.

Jeffrey said...

You are so not a hobbyist writer. There was a lot to learn from that writing workshop and unfortunately it wasn't about writing.

You are super talented and come up with really great ideas. You have to keep trying - you've made so much progress in the last year. I'm excited to see what else you are going to accomplish. I know of no one else who can write an amazing piece about Starlings, design and knit a piece of clothing and understand the minutia of astronomical concepts. You kick ass!

Chelsea said...

Thank you, Jeff--for being willing to encourage me even in the face of overwhelming attitude. And also for rocking pretty hard yourself.