This post starts off with a sad story, but in the end it’s very happy.
In order to coax you into sticking with me through the sad part, I have Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Filled Pancakes.
(Adapted very lightly from Oh She Glows’ Coco-Peanut-Butter-Swirl Pancakes–I replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with wheat bran [THE secret for ahmazing pancakes!], used an actual egg rather than egg replacer, 1% cow’s milk rather than almond or soy, 1 T agave instead of the sugar, and I didn’t swirl the coco-peanut-butter-thing because
I was lazy and didn’t think my swirls had any hope of looking nearly as pretty as Angela’s I didn’t want to waste a plastic bag piping out swirlies.)
On Friday night, I had
a breakdown a bit of a breakdown.
Lately, as the school trimester wraps up, my writing and poetry has been coming under a lot of scrutiny–from parents, classmates, friends, and potential publishers alike. I’ve received some pretty vicious feedback on certain pieces, and it just made me feel…crappy. What was most frustrating about this whole thing was that the pieces that I really loved with all of my heart were the ones that others loved to hate and tore apart when I thrust it at them with my glowing, confident smile. Here you are. This was written with a great deal of love and concentration, stemming from my very heart and soul. I love it. I trust you to love it as well. This is mine, and it’s beautiful!
Unfortunately, no one else seemed to think so last week. The pieces I had written that I was kind of meh about, people seemed to inexplicably gravitate towards!
The poetry I write is very dark, usually. Think poverty, suicidal tendencies, self-loathing, etc. I’m not sure why I write this type of thing–I like to consider myself a pretty happy person–but for some reason whenever I’m compelled or inspired by something to write a poem, it turns out really dark. The thing is, I like to think that these poems are still pretty good, in terms of writing style and analogies and all aspects of poetry–but my parents are not impressed. I think they’re worried that I’ll end up like a miniature version of Edgar Allen Poe. When I point out that he was one of the most famous poets of all time, she points out that he did commit suicide.
On Friday, all this criticism just became…too much. I’m sure the fact that I had had about five hours of sleep the previous night and still hadn’t finished all my homework had something to do with it; but I did eventually flop on the couch and break down into tears. I felt so utterly alone, and empty. It was soul-crushing. I identify as a writer–what becomes of me if I, in fact, actually can’t write well? What if everything I loved about myself was actually false? What if, what if, what if…?
So on Saturday I had myself a little, sniffly pity party, swearing I wouldn’t write anything for the coming week. It wouldn’t turn out well, anyway.
Soup was involved.
I was still in a pretty low place–but, because I wanted to be nice, I also attended a party on Saturday. Somehow, by the end of it, I ended up sitting and chatting with the hostess’ dad.
Apparently, I am better at the frustrating fine art of Social with adults than I am with people my own age.
Anyway, somehow the topic got around to what I would like to be when I grew up. My first response was “Career-wise? Oh, ideally, I’d really LOVE to be a writer-a novelist. ” But I knew that Adult Judgment was looming over us somewhere, and so I hurried on to say, “But, I mean, that’s really impractical, so actually I (this sounds weird to say out loud), I think I’d like to be a dietician.” He gave me a blank sort of stare and I blushed, continuing, “Because I like that sort of thing.”
His response (one I would have NEVER, EVER seen coming): “Why is it impractical to write novels?”
This further deepened my blush. Was this a man who didn’t know anything about anything? I went on to list in detail the pitfalls and pressures of the publishing industry, my recent exhaustion of confidence in my writing, and was about to go off on a whole slew of other things, when he put up a finger.
“I…I have a friend; an attorney, who represents a literary agency in Seattle. If you’d like, we’d just need to figure out what weekdays you’re available for the next few months, and we can set up a date for you to meet with him.”
I frickin’ died. (That sentence probably didn’t convince you of my writing abilities whatsoever; but I can’t think of a more eloquent way to phrase it.)
“Oh…you would??!” was all I could manage to squeak out. “That…that would be so…that would be HUGE!” I would have hugged him, except I had met him about four hours prior, so I didn’t think it would be considered socially acceptable. (I’m getting better at this Social thing!)
So, in short, he thinks I’m “a dear” with awesome vocabulary, and just based on our conversation he thinks I actually have a shot at publishing a book. I wanted to praise the Lord from the rooftops right then and there; here, for once in my life, was an adult who fully respected me and thought me capable of achieving MY DREAM, and not just in my thirties or forties; HERE and NOW. I do feel a bit awkward thinking about asserting myself to a literary agency as someone they should publish, but that’s exactly what I want to do with my life and I am thrilled and riding along in a bubble of ecstasy!
(Even though there is that very real possibility that the agency might think that my work isn’t what their looking for, agree that it sucks, dismiss me as some petulant, naive teenager, etc. Shhhh. This is a happy story.)
My life has potentially been changed.
And I can’t help but marvel at the fact that if I had allowed myself to curl up into a ball of self-pity and not go to that party, if I had actually socialized with my peer group instead of gravitating towards adults, if I had even deviated the conversation the slightest bit with one ill-placed word, I might have never had this avenue available to me and no literary agencies would even know I wanted to be a writer, let alone the fact that one man, based on one measly hour of conversation with me, thinks I have what it takes. I know it’s still impractical; I know I might be ranting on and on about something that turns into nothing whatsoever, but
My life has potentially been changed.