Naturally since I’m accepted to grad school (according to the paper plate on which I wrote the name and phone number of the professor who called to tell me I was accepted – I still haven’t gotten my letter) I’ve fastforwarded past securing funding, arranging a work schedule, participating in workshops and seminars, commuting to Morningside, etc to fixate on the most important question of all.
What on earth will I tell people I do once I’m a writer?
and its vengeful Gorgon cousin,
What will I say when they ask “So, what are you writing these days?”
Were I a rational person, I would point out to the crazybrain that hey, you’re already a writer because you write. If you’re feeling snooty, crazybrain, you can remind yourself you’re even a published writer. And you don’t have to tell people at parties you write – you can just tell them whatever your day job is. But of course I raise none of these simple clarifications. I prefer to panic because if someone asks me what I write?
I have either no answer at all or a long rambly one involving a series of tubes and something called “snark” and blog comments and… yeah.
I live in horror of being that buzzkill boor who rambles off into a fingernail-tearingly tedious rendition of Everything About X Topic They Can Think Of. It’s why I want to avoid being a picky eater. It’s why I didn’t want to tell anyone I was even applying to grad school. Because what if I’m BORING?!?!?!
Weird how I don’t worry about being interesting on the internets.
Wait, that came out wrong. Did it? Shut up – it did. What I mean is… on the internets, I know people can just click away when they’re bored, or scroll past. I get bummed when people unfollow on The Twitter, but I figure I’ve got more to gain by being myself than I lose when someone can’t take the insanity of #HigherStakesChildrensBooks anymore.
But in real human interaction land, a) I don’t always have conversational right-of-way like I do on my own blog, and b) People aren’t always asking for the whole story. In fact usually they’re looking for the abstract of the table of contents of the Cliff’s Notes version.
Of course, all of this is a long nattering way to hide from the fact that I don’t KNOW what I’ll be writing. In Grad School or after. Or even now, really. Not novels. Not poetry. But everything else is fair game.
Maybe I could find someone to develop a comic book series with (one where the women wear jeans and t-shirts and ponytails). Maybe I’ll dive back into movie or theater criticism. Maybe I’ll manage to tell personal memoiry stories without getting sick of my own voice. Maybe I’ll write about New York places. Maybe I’ll land a student teaching gig and focus on fostering new young writers. Maybe I’ll get better at activist writing.
If I had to show up to a writer’s workshop tomorrow, I would probably not have a single thing to submit for critique. And that’s a lot of possibilities, but it’s also a lot of deer-in-medusa-lights freezing when someone asks “So what do you write?” on the first day of school.
But for today? I’ll just continue waiting for my letter. And trust the paper plate with the phone number to assure me it wasn’t all a dream.