Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My first writing assignment in college

What follows is my first ever writing assignment turned in to Professor William Smart at Sweet Briar College. I unearthed it Wednesday evening as I was cleaning and organizing for Christmas Tree Thursday.

How many times have I started this? Each time I get a couple of sentences down and then I erase them. I like how computers can do that, just erase it all as if it had never been there, never been written.

There are plenty of periods in my life that I wish I could cut out and throw away as if they had never happened, but that doesn't work unless you're hooked up to a keyboard. It's funny that I should even be sitting in this room, with all of you, listening to this. You're thinking to yourself, "Who wrote this? Is this chick on Valium or what?"

Nope, no need for sedatives now. I've got a lot more control than I used to have. There's no need to try and hide anything now. No one can take away anything from me, no one can tell me how to feel or how to think. You see, I'm not even supposed to be alive. The doctors never thought, my parents never thought, I never even thought, never believed that I would be alive.

If you had told me five years ago that I would be here today, sitting amongst all of you, trying to write something, I would have laughed in your face. I know a lot about pain but I also know what it's like to survive even though it hurts, even when you don't care anymore, even when you don't want to survive. I may not look like much but give me some time. Think of me as the carbon that comes before the brilliance of the diamond.

Did you see the move The Dead Poet's Society? Remember what Robin Williams said? Carpe diem - Seize the day. Valuable piece of information there. It's partially the reason why I'm in this class. I've wanted to be a writer for some time now, about seven or eight years, and I decided to give it a try.

So here I am despite some strong opposition from some parental figures, despite my own self doubts. if I don't try now I know that I'll look back on my own self sabotage and say, "Where the hell was my brain? Why didn't I at least give it a shot?" I could never forgive my cowardice if I didn't at least attempt to put out some good pieces for this class. If I fail, I fail, but at least I will have tried and that is what is important. For a long time I thought that everything had to be perfect but I have learned to see that there is some beauty in everything and you just have to take the time to look around and find it.

I think that I'd like to be a writer but there are so many people that say that, that they want to write. For me, though, it is so much more than that; it's like I need to write. Writing is more than just a way to make a living, it is seeing and believing in others, in ideas, and most importantly, in yourself.

Writing is my joy and my pain, my cathartic process of healing and mending. I learn from writing and I write about what I have learned. Writing lets me think and wander and dream. It allows me to reach new heights and cross into places I've never been to. With it I can create whatever I want.

Writing allows me to become free from all of the boundaries and biases of everyday life. And it doesn't matter what anyone else says or thinks because it is my poem or my essay and if it makes me happy then there should be nothing more to strive for. Yet, I continue to want more. I want people to read what I've written and feel something. I want a response. The best feeling is letting someone read one of my pieces and have that person say to me, "Yeah, this is good, I liked it because ..."

Writing is freedom and control, love and hate, dreams and reality all at the same time. Writing is what I love and what makes me happy and that is why I do it. I love the way I get an idea and the way the words flow out swiftly while I scratch my pencil across a piece of paper. That is writing. It's taking a chance, exposing a piece of yourself for everyone to take a stab at. It's not wanting to end something until it is done 100% and to the best of your abilities. Writing is sharing and expanding and feeling and caring. I want to write more than anything in the world. Few people can understand that but I know what I want and writing is just that. Writing, if it could be personified, would be my best friend. It listens and grows with me and never betrays me. Once you have understood that, then you can begin to comprehend what my life is like.

I am only 19 - no longer a child but not really a woman. I am on the brink of the world, the precipice of a vulnerable reality. They say that all you need is a dream and I have one. Even though no one else may support me, I have to at least try and see if I can do it. I have to have the strength and conviction in myself because there is no one I can siphon that from. I have to believe in myself and be willing to fight for what I want. This is my life we're talking about, not a play about Willy Loman or Juliet Capulet. The curtain comes done only once for me.

You wanted to see inside my head so here it is. A very intricate piece of machinery, the brain. The TV commercials say that it's a terrible thing to waste.You know what? I believe them.

I sat in that first creative writing workshop after hearing this piece read aloud by my professor, my soul exposed to a group of strangers. I recall the looks of the women around me listening and letting this all soak in. They commented when the professor was done and he asked if the author wanted to reveal herself.

I didn't then but I am now.

One more tiny piece to finish this memory; the only thing written at the end in form of a comment were these words, "This is the beginning."

Nineteen years later, it's part of another beginning.


Webster said...

Weeble, I like it, especially once you got going. I'm curious, do you remember what comments you received? Did that influence your decision to keep it private, or were you just shy?

I remember getting comments on my poetry in Creative Writing in high school, where we all had to read our assignments for the class. I liked the criticism.

I think that's why I keep an open blog. I write it just for me, but I love getting comments on what I write. After awhile it gives me a "real" audience, not just an ethereal one.

Barbara said...

I have known you and loved you for so long, sometimes I forget-or maybe just take for granted-how talented you are, you talented you have always been. Thanks for the reminder.


Weebs, I like it too. But better, I see that you went to Sweet Briar here in Virginia. I had a horn student several years ago that simply HAD to go to Sweet Briar. It was her first choice. Sounded like a nice small liberal arts school. More college stories, please.

Weeble Girl said...

Webster, the comments were positive and inquisitive but I was just too shy and in too much pain to announce it was me. I didn't own myself yet.

Criticism, when done correctly, can be so beneficial. I always love comments.

I also loved Sweet Briar; it's a great small college for all women but pricey. I received the best education there, very rigorous and wonderful people in the form of students and faculty.


Denise said...

Bill Smart was one of my professors at Sweet Briar. He could be tough, but also fair. I learned a lot from him about writing and style.

What grade did you get on that? You did get a grade, I presume? or at least comments?