I dig out my college writing portfolio from time to time. I usually don’t look past the first fifteen pages or so. Truthfully, it embarrasses me to see what I wrote, that I was so serious about working on the pieces, and that true talent actually spent time reading and editing that crap.
Warm from booze, I flipped past the first fifteen pages tonight and found something. My teacher and mentor from the Undergraduate Nonfiction Workshop had assembled a significant package, which included dos and don’ts for manuscript submission, writing exercises, inspiring essays, a complete market sheet index, and a genre index of the independent presses—just to name a few.
Scribbled in her standard fine-tip purple ballpoint, she wrote:
Someday you’ll be ready to do something with this stuff. Just want you to be prepared. Keep writing.
All my best,
Four years. It seems impossible, but that’s how long it took me to find this. It’s touching to think that, way back then, she was thinking of me, trying to prepare me for something bigger. It brings to mind all the afternoons I spent sitting in her office, in the basement of the riot-proof English building, sharing tangerines, me trying to find some purpose, and her gently suggesting that hey, maybe there isn’t any.
Things have been sort of crazy lately. And I keep thinking to myself, I need to minimize. I need to simplify. I need to get back to basics.
But when I think about my ‘basics,’ they include things I can’t have right now. They include grey matter-stretching, borderline exhausting conversations. They include about 50 books I don’t have time to read. They include people with whom I can’t share immediate proximity, or, god forbid, a fucking adult beverage.
I need new basics, is what it comes down to. Or, maybe, the old standbys just need to come to me. 🙂
[Jam of the Day]: Mew, Comforting Sounds