Disclamier: I LOVE you guys, but I promise promise promise this post was not written in order to get compliments on my writing. I really just had this epiphany today, and as with all epiphanies that I have – I wanted to share it.
My junior or senior year of college, I took a screenplay writing class that was an experiment of one of my favorite college professors. Because it was so new, there only ended up being four students enrolled. The class, which met on Tuesday nights, immediately became my favorite.
While we were supposed to be working on a screen play throughout the semester, class mainly consisted of the five of us talking about writing and films, watching films, and eventually going to the bar to drink and talk about writing and films.
It was during this time, after breaking off my engagement and taking a course over the summer called Buddhism and the Beat Generation (fascinating stuff), that I felt the most creatively charged I had in a long time.
The thing about truly creative people is that they often kind of get off on messed up stuff. When I was in that little group, I felt like nothing that had happened in my life was too crazy. In fact, I didn’t feel like it was crazy enough. That complete lack of judgment was something I craved and needed desperately.
Of course, the chosen subject for my screenplay was the whole mother ordeal that I bring up all the time on the blog. I can’t tell you guys how many times I have tried, and failed, to write about that topic.
Every time my screenplay was up for critique, we ended up just talking about my life and the nuances of what I had been through, and not really focusing so much on my writing – which was, in all honesty, very bad.
I had a good idea of what I wanted to write and how I wanted to write it, but it just wasn’t happening.
In all honestly, I was much more interested in the discussion part of the class and wasn’t dedicating much energy at all to writing a solid screenplay.
During finals week, between studying for a bunch of tests for classes I’d barely paid attention in, I cram-wrote the end of that screenplay.
Cram-writing, for the record, is never a good idea.
The end result was horrid. I don’t even think I have it saved anywhere, I was so ashamed of it.
As I emailed it to my professor, who I adored, I felt terrible. I wanted him to know that his class had been the highlight of my week and that his creative energy inspired me, but I’m sure that by reading my play he knew I was a sham.
This is a predicament I have long faced. I am truly fascinated by words and the craft of writing. I am obsessed with stories of all kinds, how they came to exist, and the person behind the plot.
But when I set out on the mission of creating my own story, I always fall flat. I can’t seem to get my love of writing to materialize into actual talent.
I was listening to the news the other day as they discussed the author of Fifty Shades of Gray – E L James – and how she came up with this hugely successful story because “she was bored”.
I have to tell you honestly, that pisses me off. The fact that someone can write something that well-received on a whim is cruel and unusual punishment to someone like me.
I only heard that snippet of the conversation and I’m sure there was more to it than that, but the idea of it really got to me.
I was discussing it with my coworker, who actually reminds me of that college professor who so inspired me, and we both feel that it’s baffling that some people can just sit down and bust out genius writing without even thinking about it.
I know that part of my problem is that when I try to write, I think too much. I get so married to an idea, that I can’t let the process of writing happen organically, and I try to force myself on it in an unnatural way.
But sometimes I have to wonder if that’s all it is. I wonder if maybe all the times I’ve failed as a writer – failed to even write a complete story that I am proud enough of to show people – isn’t proof that I just don’t have the talent to ever do it.
Maybe you’re either blessed with the ability to pound out novels because “you’re bored” or you’re not and you suck at writing.
This is the true reason behind my eternal writer’s block. It not that I don’t have anything to write about – I have a MILLION things I think of on a daily basis that I want to write about – it’s that I’m truly starting to believe that I’m just not a good writer. Hell, I’m probably not even a writer period.
Over the past couple of months as I’ve continued penning this blog, I’ve wanted it to come across as a more writing-centric space with posts I can be proud to share.
And now, I’m wondering if, just like with that wretched screenplay – I’m just a sham.
At the end of my last writing class in college, a poetry class, I spoke with another professor I adored about what I should do next. I asked her if I should pursue writing at the post-graduate level, and she honestly told me that I still had work to do before I could be successful.
I appreciated her honesty, and believed it because at that point I had still very rarely written anything I considered good, so I think I just kind of surrendered my dream at that point without ever fully admitting to myself it had happened.
I know that I’ll never be truly and completely satisfied in life if I don’t have a creative outlet of some sort.
I know that I’m happiest when I’m with people who bring out my creative side, who don’t care if I’m not normal, and who make me think about things in entirely new ways.
Sometimes merely a deep, philosophical conversation is enough to satisfy that need – the constant desire I have to examine things, discuss them, understand them from all angles – but I still want to believe that there’s something in me that is good enough and talented enough to contribute to a bigger picture.
I tell myself over and over again that it’s okay that I ended up in a non-creative career field because I don’t have to be defined by work. I tell myself that I’m still a “writer” at heart, and someday I’ll do something worthwhile.
But will I?
I don’t know, and it quite frankly scares the shit out of me.