Monday, November 07, 2011

Today's Dispatch: Here Is Your Mind

I never thought I'd admit this, being the girly girl that I am, but Fight Club was the movie that changed my writing life.

...Well, not just that.

Here's the complete text of the "snowflake" scene:

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

And you know why?

Because frankly, most of the creative writing I'd done before the age of 30 was crap. Believe me, I have printouts in this house right now of said crap, and it pains me to look at them because the cheese factor is incredibly high.

But do I regret it? No. Of course, it's all crap, but I'm glad that I never pushed myself to get published when I wrote all of that crap. It's proof that I needed the time to grow up and get ready. Could you imagine what would have happened if my first manuscripts had been critiqued at 16, or 19, or 21? I would have had a nervous breakdown by then. I would have hugged my manuscript, sung lullabies to it, and never leave my apartment until I was sure that the boogeyman wasn't out to get me.

The difference between me then and me now is that I can laugh at my own crap, and finish my own crap.

I now have two finished NaNoWriMo novels, and a third one that's just getting warmed up. One of them might get published, one of them will get rejected. Or maybe all of them would get rejected. Should that bother me? Maybe. Will I get rich? Not exactly. (The most that I can hope for is to make enough for a year's worth of tuition.) The fact that I have them, however, is proof that I could work on a project and see it through until the bloody end... and that's going to bode well for my career in general, not just as a writer.

My adviser at UP Diliman recently gave me the pep talk of all pep talks during our first meeting, and one of the words of advice she gave me was to keep myself humble. Why? Soon I would have to present my findings to a panel of my own peers, and they will pick the living hell out of my research even if I have checked my findings ten million times. A tough reality, but I cannot afford to cry or pick a single fight with those peers if I want to be seen as a professional, period. (Well, okay, I can probably cry and talk smack, but that would have to wait until nobody's looking.) And I've seen this as a teacher, too, because I had spent three semesters' worth of my life talking undergraduates down from their high ledges to remind them that, yes, they are not the special snowflakes that they thought they were when they left their high schools.

And if the academe is tough enough as it is, imagine how it is in the publishing world, where the egos are bigger and the financial stakes are higher. That's baseball for you.

I'll close this one out with a few lines from the Desiderata, which rings truer now than it did so many years ago:

If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 

No comments: