Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Graduation Day Then and Now



I graduated from high school 20(!) years ago this month. That's me on Graduation Day! It's crazy to think about, especially considering I write YA. I am 20-25 years older than the characters I am writing about and I love every minute of it.

I had no idea what I would be on High School Graduation Day. I knew I would be going to college: Syracuse University, but that was it. When I entered my major was undecided. The reason why? Because what I wanted to be didn't seem like something I could admit.

I wanted to be a writer. I had always wanted to be a writer. I just didn't know how to tell people that when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It seemed too crazy to even dream for. Too hard to accomplish. Too far from anything I had ever done.

Until I was 23 years old the longest thing I'd written was twenty pages, maybe even less. How did people become writers? How did they tell other people they wanted to be them?

In my High School yearbook when I was asked where I wanted to be in ten years I said, "I hope to write novels that connect people from all places and times." I was drunk when I wrote it, but there was a truth there. "I hope to write novels."

Interesting that I didn't say "I will..." because unlike other professions I had no idea if I would ever achieve it.

I guess I'm here to say that dreams do come true. That the person you want to be, is the person you'll become if you just keep going.

And learning to be a writer? I have my MFA in Fiction, but being a writer isn't something I've learned. It's something I've practiced. It's something I've made myself. It's all about the hard work I put in and even if ten years from now, I'm no longer publishing. No one can take that away.

7 comments:

  1. I especially like your statement about how writing is something you've practiced. That's similar to being a musician, I think; a musician has to practice regularly in order to be good at what he or she does. It isn't enough for them to learn how to play the instrument.

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  2. Almost a catch-22 that writing and practice thing. Some days I read what I've just written and want to cringe, the next, I'm feeling like I'm one with the clouds. Despite those 'oh crap,' and cringe moments, it's ALL worth it. Love your writing.

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  3. I felt exactly the same way as a teen--wanting to be a writer, but not sure how to get there, like, did I have to be as crazy as Hemingway?

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  4. Yes!! Totally get this - I was the same way.

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  5. Oh, man, do I love that line: "The person you want to become is the person you'll be if you just keep going."

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  6. Great post! I didn't know how to tell people I wanted to be a writer either. In college, I kept referring to my English/Writing major as pre-law.

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  7. Okay, that last paragraph rings so so true to me as someone who also has a Fiction MFA. I am going to be coming back to that as a reminder repeatedly, especially those last two lines! Thank you!

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