I don’t know! I don’t know, and I don’t know how to know, you know?
– April, Definitely, Maybe
So, my first semester’s over.
I feel like I should feel different. I feel like my world should have tilted in some major way; that I should somehow be privy to its core, its epidermis peeled off and microsoped so that I can see the slime crawling right underneath. A part of me (a part of all of us, though we also all deny it) wants to believe that I’m the exception to the rule – that wants to hear you say that I shit gold and mean it.
Shockingly, none of that has happened.
All I have really “learned,” or at least all that I can sum up in so many words, is that I have so much left to learn. I sit to read the stories of my peers and my mind is peppered with “maybe”s and “might”s, as if I am already in the middle of taking back my thoughts as I write them on paper. You could say that I may just not be a good editor – but I’m convinced that you cannot be one without being the other. You could say I don’t have a vested interest in what I’m reading; I think it may in part have to do with a sense of competition that films itself over my eyes. Maybe I’m focusing more on what they’re doing that I’m not, instead of focusing on how I can help them.
But even as I try desperately to glean a lesson from my talented classmates – I feel alienated from them. Glass walls divide me from you from you. I feel like we have all been gathered together to speak about one craft we love, but all in different languages, none of which can be taught. I wish that my advice and your advice could reach each our ears, translated. I’m still looking for someone who will take one look at my story and know where I want it to go – but how can that, really, be anyone but me?
In one sense, it’s silly for me to have thought it would be that way, as if there’s some secret these programs have about writing. As if it could be that easy. No; the only “secret” is to write, rain or shine, sad or mad, busy or free, ashamed or overconfident. The only “secret” is to kill the committee, send the vampires screaming, stop being your own creative block. Shape everything you touch into art; pull in the bitter and the sweet, the sorrow and the sunshine, the tar that threatens to muck and suck the marrow out of your life. Make good art.
And that brings us full circle.