Tuesday, January 11

[blank] is who I am

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."
-Joan Didion
it's completely unquantifiable, all the collections of peoples and places and endless events and bits of scenery that a single imagination can hold. you could say there is a kind of infinite everywhere inside everyone's head: possibilities and impossibilities, memories and revisions of memories, plans and paranoias and castles of hope. at least that's what I feel like is in my head. like a million little windows and a million little tunnels, all leading somewhere totally other.

for me, and probably for a lot of people, writing is one way to pin down all those pieces of myself. writing gives all of it substance and context and movement and purpose. writing opens up that infinity for other people to wander around in. I know it doesn't look or feel exactly the same for them... but that's the amazing part. I can encode all these ideas in a specific way, with specific arrangements of words and paragraphs, and yet your brain decodes it all uniquely, meshing my infinite imagination with yours.

I used to say writing was who I am. it is my playground. it is my sanctuary. it is my nirvana. it is my sanity.

wait a minute-- is? or was?


this last weekend I sat down and did some serious graduate school research. my decision about grad school has been on a shelf in a closet for almost two years. some part of my lazy brain may have assumed the decision was going to make itself. either the gravitational pull of my future would pull me back into academia or it would pull me somewhere else. but that isn't how the future works. it has no gravity besides what you give it. and if it you don't give it any, it can't pull you anywhere.

so it's been about time I started studying things out and making some plans. I need to find out where my heart wants to be and how much it's willing to put up with to get there.

anyway, I'm toying more and more with the idea of a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction or something. I feel like such a degree would tie together the kinds of writing that I love. and despite having always said 'no, of course not' to that question every English major gets asked, I am starting to see that the only way to make an eternal difference in the world is to teach. and I don't know exactly what I'll be more capable of teaching if I have an MFA, but I know that credentials like that do open doors.

so maybe that's what I want. I'm still figuring out the costs. money. time. effort. inadequacy.

whatever happens, writing will still be the glue underneath everything else. it gives all that shadowy, unexplored dreamspace a shape. it balances the gravity in both my future and my past. it might not always be easy and it might not always make sense, but is who you are.

"You're the storyteller, somebody else is somebody you're telling stories to, and it's your job to take them by the hand, look them in the eye, and say everything's okay, we're going to walk into dark places, and you can trust me. And then you take their hand, and you walk step by step out of the light, into a dark place. And then you let go of their hand and you walk away."
-Neil Gaiman
there are a million stories that need telling, but not just so other people can hear them. Gaiman talks about telling stories to somebody else... but right now it's me. sometimes you need to drag yourself by the hand into a frightening, unlit future, and leave yourself there, and find out what happens next.


Nic said...

'but that isn't how the future works. it has no gravity besides what you give it. and if you don't give it any, it can't pull you anywhere.'

Yeah, I'm also starting to realise that :S

P.s A Neil Gaiman book arrived in the post for me today. Coincidence?

amelia said...

oooh. which one?

Nic said...

Neverwhere. Haven't read any of his books before but I kept wanting to buy one whenever I was in a bookshop.

amelia said...

I love Neverwhere. mm. I should read it again....