I like to think I intimidated them, that they couldn’t get through the first section out of furious envy, that they’re bitter and jealous and can’t muster up the courage to dole out even a single compliment, a single piece of acknowledgment in any possible way.
I like to think my love and devotion to the art blinded them into childish figurines incapable of admitting that maybe my shit isn’t so bad, that maybe it’s actually good and has potential.
I’m not asking for a fucking medal, just input from those who claim to be writers.
My creative writing teacher at Santa Barbara City College never wrote back after I emailed him about my first book. He was the first person to ever play music for me as I wrote. He put on the song “Acknowledgment” by John Coltrane and gave us 10 minutes or so to write anything at all. For whatever reason I decided to write prose (for the record I want to say that I consider prose to be poetry, but I do not consider poetry to be prose… similar to the way that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square). Anyways, pretentious rants from a drunk man aside, I wrote a piece called “acknowledgment.” In desperate need of participation points (required to pass) I volunteered to read. I did so with a trembling voice and a shaky pair of hands. After finishing and most surely stumbling over a few words, I received nothing. No applause, no whispered words, nothing. Prior to this moment, it was standard practice for everyone to give a slight round of applause to the brave/arrogant willing student. I received silence and what felt like dozens and dozens of burning sets of eyes. Was it respect? Was it reactionary confusion and shock? Or was it disapproval? All I know is that since then I have published two books and currently feel my left hand closing against my will. Give in and allow a night off? Go fuck yourself.
My high school English teacher who inspired me in many ways allowed me access to his inner beast as well, years later that is. A complete lack of effort to communicate and brazen disinterest in reading or purchasing my books has left me baffled. Perhaps he fears my attitude and commitment. Perhaps he’s perplexed by my sudden ability and dedication to the combination of words. Perhaps he’s seen the years pass and justifies his teaching as being more important to society; hurling his own desires as a writer into the trunk of a car doused in gasoline. “Burn baby, burn,” he cackles.
There are more examples, more personal disappointments and more rejections from people claiming to be something they are not, but to continue would be superfluous. I’ll always be bitter so this only ignites the fire. But don’t take me for someone who loves to glorify the struggle. I simply prefer to write about what I know, how I feel, who I listen to and who I ignore.
If you’re scanning this piece for contradictions, I suggest you step the fuck back because it’s full of ‘em.
I’m no genius writer, I’m just willing to churn out more than the delusional sap who’s been told his words flow like caramel. His “craving” will soon subside as mine subtlety struts by unannounced. Notice the alliteration; how it’s significance can be argued for pointless hour upon hour, when all that matters is whether or not the sentence flows better as a result. Or maybe it’s just personal preference. Don’t discount that. Maybe every sentence Toni Morrison writes isn’t supposed to be analyzed to the bone. What’s wrong with intended personal significance that may not translate the exact same message to every brain? By making writing personal we can make it relatable in all kinds of new ways. Write what you know and the right ones will follow.
Life isn’t shit, it just favors the greedy. Help me find a detour.