If you care what people think of you, writing can be really hard. This blog has been a good experience for me because I don’t really care what I write down here. It doesn’t really matter. No one has to read it and I’m not getting paid. Plus, if I cared a lot about what people thought of me, I wouldn’t have the ability to put anything on the Interwebs where any old person can read it.
But in the course of writing Statement of Purpose essays for grad school applications in the last week or so, I’ve come upon a large, brick wall (Fortress! Skyscraper! Taj Mahal!) of fear and frustration that at this, yet another dramatic moment in my life, seems impossible to penetrate. You see the specific job of the people who will read these essays is to judge me. So what I say matters. I can’t be trite and clichéd, like I am every time I write my blog posts. I have to be original. And more than that, I have to sound intelligent. And even more-est than that I have to make them like me. And all of those things are becoming really difficult the more I think about them.
For instance, leading with “All my life I have longed to communicate,” would be starting off on the wrong foot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense since everyone “longs” to communicate when they’re babies. That’s why we cry so damn much. And yet, this is pretty much all I’ve written so far. And since I immediately erased it, I don’t even have that. I have a really long, tedious outline that reads like a list of the shitty jobs I’ve had over the years, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to wow anybody. Though they might be wowed by the amount of time I spent unemployed. Now that is impressive.
Have you ever heard that perhaps apocryphal story of the kid who was applying to college—I don’t know where, it was some posh Ivy League school--and the essay prompt was “Define Courage,” and he just sent in a piece of paper with “This is courage” scrawled on it? In my mind he scrawled it. And it was scrawled in blood. Probably he typed it unless he was some sort of murderous hillbilly. And lets face it: Ivy Leagues love a weirdo or a sob story. I think it does something for their demographics. Or it just makes them feel good. So he was probably a hillbilly. Here is a quick reproduction of what his essay probably looked like:
Anyway, I’m starting to think that might be the way to go. Only I’m not quite as brave as he is so mine might look something more like this:
|The question mark shows that I'm rethinking this whole idea.|
And then, as an afterthought, or to show that I was really unique, and that my heart was in the right place and I was trying really hard to wow them, I’d add on a reverse rainbow. It would prove that I was thinking outside the box and also that I'm pro-gay but I take it one step further. I'm so pro-gay I've got a reverse rainbow. I'm pro-EVERYTHING IMPORTANT.
It’s hard to write things when you know people will read them. That’s why I think it’s easier to be a great writer if your parents, siblings and spouse are dead, that way they aren’t around to be horrified by the things you’ve said or the confessions you’ve made. It’s like an actor or actress going naked for a role: I don’t care if you’re nominated for an Oscar! Your father had to watch that! He doesn’t want to see your naked body! (Of course, I suppose it would be monumentally worse if you did it for some direct-to-video piece of crap you got paid $500 to make.) The bravest writers are the ones who know that peoples’ feelings are going to be hurt or their sensibilities offended and they DO IT ANYWAY. But see, I’m not that kind of person. I’m a big, old weenie and I’m afraid that my life choices are going to make this essay the equivalent of confessing to a crime. (The crime of inherent laziness and the knack for incessant failure.)
If only I were a gay, minority hillbilly with a small supply of blood lying around. That’s how you get into college.
*Another quote from Louie. It's soooo good! And Louis C.K. won an Emmy last night for comedy writing, thereby reinforcing my belief that everything I like is right and wonderful.