It always seems that whenever I have an idea, a plan, something expansive, I put that in motion, and as soon as that’s taken care of, more ideas for more expansive things come to mind. During the last semester that I attended college, instead of flying into Phoenix (I went to school in Flagstaff), I wanted to go to LA to spend time with my good friend Caren before going to school. In my house, it didn’t matter that I was 21, I had to get this plan approved by my parents. The way I got any plan approved by my parents was to put it in writing.
It was one of those unspoken rules. I always felt I couldn ‘t talk to them, writing was safer. I could put all the information I had and all my persuasive points into an essay that they could digest. I didn’t have to be worried about getting cut off by immediate rejection and anger. I didn’t have to worry about getting short-circuited into expressing some strong emotion, something inherently outlawed in our house which would result in an immediate “NO.”
I discovered that I could use this writing tactic in ninth grade. I was taking a communications class which focused on public speaking, and one of our assignments was to write a persuasive speech. I always did better in that class when I wrote about something that mattered to me. Nothing mattered to me more than music, so I wrote a speech directed at my parents about why I should be allowed to watch MTV. This was 94, back when there was still a legitimate reason for the M in MTV. After doing the speech in class, I gave it to my parents to read, and they actually changed their policy!
In the years after, I used this approach whenever I wanted to do something that seemed far outside their realm of usual yes’s. I wrote persuasive essays when I wanted to take trips, or mostly when I wanted to be allowed to go to a concert. Or when I wanted to drop out of college because I was unsure about my own path. Of course, there were times it didn’t work. There was the time I wanted to visit schools far away (like in WA where I live now), and go to a party for an online forum I frequented. And there was the time I wanted soooo desperately badly, as if my life depended on it badly, to go to the Battle of the Bands at my high school, but had to go to some girl’s birthday party instead. No amount of logic, reasoning, calm arguing, or any not-so-calm approaches could change their minds on that one.
So asking to be able to go to LA to see my friend, who was actually from that same online forum – I now have a good group of real-life friends from that place – seemed pretty outlandish. So I gathered my information, stated my case in an essay, and to my utter surprise, they said it’d be okay.
Up until that point, all my energy went into preparing that essay and making my case. As soon as it was taken care of, I suddenly felt inspired to dream a little bigger, beyond just a visit to a faraway place. I started applying for internships all over, and that quest eventually led to some pretty wild travels, and eventually moving out west, which was a whole adventure in itself.
I’m reminded of this recently. It’s not quite the same. My parents aren’t much of a factor, but the same principle still stands. I just finished my application to UW, and now I find myself thinking all expansively, like well what about other schools, why limit myself to one? I could go anywhere. There are so many schools and programs out there. I really want something that offers a diverse array of writing classes – fiction, poetry, non-fiction, humor, screenwriting, personal essay, memoir, and so on and so on and so on. Oh, and somewhere in a city with connections and all that jazz, so I might be able to get internships or work experience with magazines, publishers, or even in teaching.
I’m sure this wishy-washy, deciding on one thing then immediately moving on to something bigger is probably infuriating to a lot of friends, and even oftentimes to me (I mean it’s a lot of manic, excited energy, and sometimes I just wish I could settle and stick with one thing), but it sort of works for me. It’s how I operate.
And so, the search continues. In the meantime, I’m still editing my book.
“Barons of Suburbia” – Tori Amos
- Unbidden Praise
- Wunderlust – Operation Kill
- The Power of Revision~ Kristi
- The Chronicles of Writer’s Block