Wednesday, January 13, 2010

From The Archives III

[I honestly don't know why I do something like this. I think it's because I can see the progress that I made through the years, in terms of my writing, and, not to mention, before the Big Honking Project (aka the Novel) started, I did a lot of other little writings and such.

This, however, comes not from creative writing or anything. This, my friends, is my college application essay. The one where they say, "Tell us about yourself in so many words or fewer." This was actually one of those papers that we worked on in AP English, too, which meant writing a draft, giving it to LaM and letting her have at it with her red pen, which is decidedly creepy at points. (But she was a good teacher who taught me quite a bit about academic writing, and I actually learned things and my AP credit from that year is the only thing that transferred, so Thank You.) So, here's the application essay that got me accepted to Nazareth, HWS, Mansfield, SUNY Potsdam, and wait-listed at the University of Rochester. I'm still trying to figure out that last one.

It's dated December 12, 2007.]

The more money you have, the better stationary you can afford to send out.

That's the way it seems in the publishing industry, a truly tough nut to crack when you're on the outside looking in. As a seventeen-year-old writer who is trying to get my manuscript published, I have a pile of rejection letters sitting on my dresser next to my lava lamps, ranging from plain printer paper to expensive, heavy stationary. I follow the same routine as others do: write a query, send it out, wait anxiously for over a week, and then open the self-addressed stamped envelope with my own address written on the front in my own handwriting and read the usual bad news. "We're not accepting manuscripts at the moment" or "I'm sorry, this isn't the right company for your type of book" or any one of the other fifty standard messages that publishers send out to first time authors trying to make it big. Unlike them, I'm not out for the glory of it, the money or the publicity. I'm simply trying to fulfill a dream and prove that no matter where you come from in life, you can do anything.

I started writing at an early age. I was about six when my family got our first computer. It had a basic word function and I would happily spend an hour pecking out the letters on the keyboard. My punctuation was horrible, my spelling was atrocious, but the idea, the storyline, was good. But those stories never got off the ground and ended up crumpled in the trashcan. Years later, when I was fourteen, I started another one that I was determined to finish and publish. It was about fifty pages, a record for me at the time, and I was proud of it. I'd stuck with it, but that one, too, fell by the wayside.

The summer before my freshman year of high school changed everything. I made a horrible decision that put not only myself at risk, but my teammates and my family. While it didn't scare me at the time, I was naively conversing with a stranger through the Internet. A mean nearly two hundred miles away knew nearly everything about me, including where I lived. The realization of what could have happened was more than stunning. To deal with the turbulent emotions that resulted from my stupidity and the personal hell created by my guilt, I found it easier to write than to talk. To keep myself in one piece, I wrote daily, starting yet another story. Yet this one was different; this was born of forceful human emotion and more a form of therapy in the beginning than anything else. Later, as I healed and became more comfortable with what had happened and learned how to deal with that situation and life at the moment, what I was writing grew into something large and unexpected. One composition book turned to two, which turned to three, and so on and so forth until it now stretches through eight and a half. Somewhere around four or five it stopped being a tool for me to calm my feelings internally, and became something of its own entity, a story that was started and now begging to be finished.

Sadly, with a hectic and full senior schedule, I'm finding it more difficult to make time to write than previously. My priorities have been shuffled and reshuffled until writing has put on the back burner, schoolwork on the front, and the task of getting published lying somewhere in the middle, a filler for when I have pockets of time to change the addressee on the query letter, write out envelopes, and walk to the mailbox. I have no doubt that my rejection letter pile while continue to get deeper and the wait for news is agony. But there's something satisfying about sending out a piece of mail, and it's almost like playing the lottery. Instead of a dollar and a dream, it's gritty determination and a letter of a story from a small town girl looking to make an imprint.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz