Back to the Future

We’ve been having to take a lot of career aptitude tests online in Health lately.  The grown-uppy-types are very concerned that our lives have no apparent direction or focus (they are right on this account) and that online aptitude tests where you check boxes and mark bubbles will somehow help direct us and manifest our destiny (woefully wrong).

Apparently I should be a stand-up comedian.  *winks and smiles while the ba-dum-dum of drums and cymbals plays behind*  That or a naturopath, but, you know.  I really can’t see myself ever pestling herbs and prescribing clay masks for ailments.  I don’t doubt its veracity–nature is good, yay nature, I am very pro-nature–it’s just not my cup of herbal tea.

I’ve decided to post about my increasingly nebulous future simply because it’s started to feel all the more nebulous as of late.  I’ve always been told I have years and years to figure out what I want to do with my life, and now suddenly I…don’t.

I’m forced to face the fact that the ONLY THING in this world that I am very, very good at, and that I can see myself doing happily for the rest of my years, is creative writing.  It always has been, and I’m pretty sure it always will be.  And this is kind of a hard lot to draw.  Every day, even during said career aptitude tests and college education classes, I’m bombarded with reminders that careers in the arts are notoriously fickle in regards to financial security.  And, ermghurughmrrm.  As someone who relishes planning and security and self-sufficiency, this doesn’t really sit well with me.  BUT I CAN DO NOTHING ELSE.

And then there’s the whole question of c*llege??

I have never before in my life questioned the fact that I was going to college.  It was handed to me on a platter at birth the same way things like “the world is round” and “you have ten fingers” were.  But…I’ve spent a long time researching the pros vs cons of obtaining an MFA in creative writing.  Most successful authors, even those with such degrees, seem to be of the mind that it’s not really worth the money. And I might be on the same page with them.  (Haha, literary pun, haha.)  For me, at least–I don’t want to sound snobbish–creative writing has always been more about intuition, inspiration, practice, and trial and error than algorithms or plot diagrams or instruction.  Definitely, I think the environment of a college literary program would be inspiring, and it definitely would be helpful to be around other likeminded individuals for feedback and midnight NaNoing sessions (and possibly meeting cute college writer guys, ya never know).  But…maybe it’s actually more helpful to me to read a lot and toodle around on my own?  The problem is I’m also deeply engrained with the stereotype that if you don’t continue onto college, you become a reckless, rampaging teenage delinquent set loose on the world with no direction in life, even though there are plenty of wonderfully intelligent people who never continued to higher education and are still huge forces of awesome in this world.  (One of those links is not like the other.) Also, it may be that if I do not go to college I will hole up in my apartment or whatever and order all my groceries online and never see the sun and never socially interact again because it’s so much easier.

I just…I dunno, guys.  At least I still have a few more years to think on this.

Anyway…it does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.  What am I doing now to work on my writing?

  • I’ve made it to my school competition of Poetry Out Loud, which is exciting and fun and terrifying.  If I win, which is unlikely, seeing as I’ll be going up against kids four years older than me and vastly more experienced, I think there’s a regional competition, then state, then nationals.  Granted, this isn’t working on my writing at all–it’s actually one of the first times I’ve ever performed a poem not my own–but it’s still working on my stage presence and spoken word skills.  (I also love spoken word.  I would not be disappointed in the slightest if my future career ended up focusing more on performance poetry than other types of writing.)
  • Novelling has been somewhat stalled lately.  Remember Thaw?  I gave that up during the summer to take a new idea out for a spin because I am a NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY GIRL WITH COMMITMENT ISSUES.  Luckily, though, I realized that that new idea was actually way too complicated and it never progressed into novel-shape.  I’m not saying I’ll never do anything with it, but I realized it’s going to take a huge amount of finesse and concentration and dedication to flesh out the idea into something that doesn’t seem too bizarre, and, as I am a lazy sack of caffeine and societal angst, that doesn’t sound too appealing right now.  So I am back to Thaw.  It’s around 60K words at the moment.
  • Writing is gradually getting less dark!  Yay!  Remember when I was having this problem?

tumblr_inline_mthr9h93F81qi7ifk(The last two years of my writing life…)

I’m not sure why this took me so long to realize, but the only way to make things less fiery-destruction-y was not to force it.  My older writings were reflecting my mood at the time, and that’s been getting better this year.  And the dark writings weren’t bad–they were just a different side of me.  It’s good to write multiple moods, since everyone experiences multiple moods.  I still get a kind of twisted pleasure out of writing from the blackest pits of my soul, but I feel the need to do that less often. 😀  I’m slowly mastering the art of whimsy, and I like it just as much.  I’m learning balance.

  • Voice is developing!  Before it tended to be really malleable–as in, I would read Jane Austen and for the next few days I would write like Jane Austen (or a shoddy teenage version of Jane Austen), then I would read a shoddy blog post and would not be able to pull myself from the depths of the shoddy-writing mindset until I read something breathtakingly clean and articulate.  My current mood or mindset would influence the way the words came out a lot. But now, looking back on Thaw, especially, I’m starting to see some voice consistency and development of unique character voices…and I like it.  I’m not so critical of myself now, with some distance between myself and the novel, and I’m liking what I’m writing.  It’s really cool.

If you stuck with me through this entire post, thank you so much!  I had, um, a lot of thoughts.  I hope you all have a FANTASTIC 3-day weekend! In the comments: anyone know any really good quotes regarding THE FUTURE?

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One thought on “Back to the Future

  1. I think those career aptitude tests are somewhat of a joke for many people–no fill-in-the-bubble assessment will tell you exactly how your life will turn out! Sure, they can (maybe) help you narrow down your interests and help you figure out what you DON’T want to do in the future, but still…Take the results with a grain–or a handful–of salt. That being said, I can see you becoming a stand-up comedian, though I am not sure how a naturopath relates to comedians, unless naturopaths are very humorous people…? I’ve never met one, so I couldn’t say for sure. I know that people blather on and on about how careers in the arts are financially insecure, how you should major in something more “practical,” and how you will end up homeless on the streets or working at a fast food restaurant. However, if creative writing is your passion, I say GO for it!! Maybe it will work out, and maybe it won’t, but at least you won’t be abandoning something you love for the sake of practicality. As for college, I agree that it isn’t for everybody, and not going to college does NOT mean you will become a violent, lazy, or uneducated hoodlum. Like you pointed out, there have been many successful people who didn’t go to college, and there is no point in wasting thousands of dollars just because you feel as though you “should” go to college. You still have time, so don’t stress out too much about it:)

    Congratulations on making it into your school competition of Poetry Out Loud! I am sure you will do a fantastic job, even if you don’t win. And I am glad you are feeling good about both Thaw and your developing writer’s voice–that is fabulous news! I agree that since we have multiple moods, it is natural for your writing to reflect that. I think it’s also great that you are “learning balance” as well. As for your question, here are some cliche quotes about the future that you’ve probably heard a million times before, but I thought I’d share them anyway. Some of them might not even be accurate, since I got them online, but oh well…
    “I never think of the future–it comes soon enough.” Albert Einstein.
    “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reasons which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius.
    “When you make a choice, you change the future.” Deepak Chopra.
    “Let go of your past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.” Henry David Thoreau.

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