So for those of you who may not know, I applied for MFA programs this year. And boy oh boy, did I learn a lot. I think one particular lesson is important for all writers to keep in mind, regardless if they're putting themselves on the front lines of admissions or submitting to a dream publication or agent.
Writing is not getting accepted. Writing is not being told it's good. Writing is not getting everything you want. Writing is simply writing.
Ooo, let me do my metaphor now.
So in my personal life, I am getting married. I know, exciting, we've been broadcasting it online since 2011, so it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following our story. But Alex and I finally tie the knot on August 16, 2014.
In a fury of "oh-my-God-this-is-actually-happening," Alex and I headed out to a Wedding Convention across the river. And there indeed in all of its glory was the entire convention center, full of just absolute shit. I say shit not because it was ugly, but it was just a lot of shit. Like, you know, when you are moving out of your freshman college dorm for the summer, and your parents look around at all the random useless knick-knacks you've accumulated over nine months, and they say, "Look at all of this shit!"
"Man," I sort of kidded with Alex, "it's like it's all about the bride and you're just an accessory."
The joke became reality when the doormen started handing out stickers to BRIDES, BRIDESMAIDS, MOTHERS OF THE BRIDES, and ...
"Can I help you?" the man said to Alex's outstretched hand.
"A groom sticker, please!" Alex beamed.
The man scoffed. "Ha. Yeah, we don't have those." And he moved along.
Alex sort of sat there in a bit of a tizzy.
It seemed as if some girls get married for the sake of the wedding, and if the newest David's Bridal commercial and the numerous wedding forums internet-wide are any indication, this is a legitimate frame of mind.
I don't want to get married so I can wear a dress. I don't want to get married so I get my bachelorette party this weekend. I don't want to get married so I can sit here on this blog and tell you I'm getting married. I want to get married because I am in love with Alex.
Alex is not some cold business partner who shall be playing the role of the groom. His proposal was clumsy and messy, but it was real. Our courtship was long and personal and beautiful because it was ours, not cookie-cutter. There was no question whether or not I was going to say yes, and when the going got tough, we didn't play games. We talked it out. Our hearts are fully in this. We are best friends, and it has been a very personal experience.
Writing has to be the same way.
So I asked myself why I write. It's such an over-asked question, but sitting on Facebook's MFA Draft 14 board, it makes you feel small and insignificant when you try to compare yourself to these people who seem to know what they're doing more than you do. All of a sudden, our prowess and talent and worth as a person are measured in amounts of rejection letters, acceptances, waitlists, or little scribbled notes on our "no thank you but you're awesome" mail. We keep score like writing is something that comes with a scoreboard. And we are ranked, over and over again.
This is not what writing is.
I asked myself a very important question. And I came up with a very important answer.
This is what my groom is: My groom is a boy with curly hair and glasses, who laughs by tilting his chin into his neck and giving out an "Oh my Goood" that can last for minutes. That's how you know you really got him good. My groom is a man who growled when he shoved a jackass in Boys Town Chicago up against a brick wall because the guy had copped a feel on my boobs. My groom sometimes tries to quote Cracked articles to me as interesting facts, when we both know damn well we both read Cracked religiously. My groom is someone who sits by lakes with me and we talk about whether or not we can afford Jimmy Johns, and then we slip into a conversation about God and whether or not we really did see my grandmother standing at the end of the death bed when her body gave out.
And this is what writing is: Writing is sitting cross-legged on my dorm bed, playing Natalie Merchant and Panic! At the Disco while I furiously type out a scene with John Price and Daniel Welles. Writing is making Abigail's airship fly across the sky while Wallace Cane stands by her side. It's watching a stranger jump from a thirty-story building and wishing I could stop him from hitting the ground. It's looking Pard straight in the face and wondering if he knows that he's a bad person sometimes. And it's standing next to Dantes and Judas when they overlook the broken kingdom that is now completely void of life.
I am marrying my soul mate. I write people I have known for years in my mind; people I love and people who have a story that I have to tell. All of it comes from the soul, from the desire and love to need to love.
And I think we all need to remember that. Be kind to yourself. Love is something that comes from the soul, not from a letter and not from a dress.
Boom! Metaphor full circle!