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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Monday, September 20, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 35

It could happen that I give up. I might not have it in me. It has always been a fantasy of mine, this struggling artist type sweating over her work, piling up canvases, prints, typed pages. I have imagined the walls of her studio, the shapes her life's work might take. But I may be too weak and delicate of a creature to see it through.

Today, I read this lovely, and terrifying and stark essay by Andrew Altschul over at The Rumpus. I love the nurturing quality of the site, from Dear Sugar to the Long Haul, S. Elliott et al, seem genuinely concerned about the writers and readers of the world. (I love them even when they don't respond to my submissions.)

In Altschul's essay, he recounts (safely, from the rearview looking back ten years ago) a time when he considered the possibilty that he had ruined his life. The crying, the isolation, the small catastrophes, it all
sounded so achingly familiar. Especially today, as my car ended up back in the shop--costing this time, all the money I had for graduate applications--I wondered how I could possibly keep this up for... ever. The truth of it is that I don't know that I can.

Today's plan involved sussing out the grad application requirements and building packets for my recommenders. Now, with the grad school money gone into sparkplugs, I dissolved into hysterics three schools in. I spent an hour desparately editing an essay, submitting it to two more competitions. Stacking up books I could sell. Envisioning all of the things in my apartment that could be traded for the money to make it another six months. Trying to muster up the fortitude to write 40 project management articles (at $15 and 2 hours a piece) to get the cash for applications. But then, surely the car will break down in some new costly manner. Or I will finally get to the dentist and recieve the news I'm dreading. Or I will lose my job again. These things are tearing me down and I feel like they shouldn't be. If this were the right path, wouldn't it be easier to handle the hardships that come with it? Shouldn't my conviction be more sustaining?

Up until college, when I threw myself into fine art with the bullheadedness that used to be more my hallmark, writing was something that I performed begrudgingly for my superiors. In the fourth grade, several members of my cohort were assigned to separate classes in areas of demonstrated excellence. I wanted so badly to be "gifted" in painting or drawing, but no. It was creative writing. Like a death sentence: my friends went to ballet and ceramics and I had to sit in a regular classroom at some other regular school and write.

Secretly, I grew to like it. But publicly, it wasn't what I wanted to do.

In high school, I put together what felt like a strong portfolio, but failed to get a scholarship to art school by one place. Instead, I won a national writing award, which meant nothing to the artist I was supposed to become. I don't know what any of that means, except that maybe I've spent so much time running from writing, that now it's my turn to choke on writing's dust.

All I did today was stress out about being a writer. The dream of a real job, with decent pay and a running group and a gym membership and some business travel, it was just so attractive. Andsobutyet, I fear I burned that bridge down--even if they'd have me, I could never get over the humiliation.

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