The other day, when I was driving home from Sussex, I saw a squirrel dash across the Garden State Parkway – across five lanes of speeding traffic – to the other side. He scurried amongst leaves and shrubs safely and smile spread across my face. I wish I had that kind of daring and tenacity.
Sometimes, in the morning when I am driving to the high school, I scan through the radio stations. Inevitably, the dial lands on Bible Thumper radio, which features men who sound impossibly old, who gasp out sermons of fire and brimstone, demanding that we all repent. I like to leave the station on for a minute or two because I like the eeriness that fills the front of my car. The streets are usually deserted, my dying, dim headlights lighting on nothing but pavement and painted white lines. The change that lies discarded in one of two cup holders and clangs irritatingly around in the space as I drive is the only other sound. It is not comforting; it is unsettling, but I enjoy it all the time. I suppose that makes me weird.
More and more, I am realizing that the more things change, the more they truly do stay the same. My belief – or faith? – in a common human thread is affirmed on a daily basis. Human beings may age physically; hair may grey, joints may weaken, and lines may form, but emotionally, they can be as childish and as whimsical and romantic at seventeen as they can be at ninety-seven. That knowledge, that possibility, gives me hope and makes me smile time and time again.
Lately, I am becoming more and more obsessed with romance. I worry that this could be dangerous; dangerous to myself, to those around me, and to my writing endeavors. To make this obsession more of a contagious disease, enjoy the following passages from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Also, please note that I have booked a hotel room for Salem, Massachusetts. At least I make good on some promises.
“’Because,’ he said, ‘I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you—you’d forget me.’”
“’I tell you I must go!’ I retorted, roused to something like passion. ‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!”
I am totally ready for the summer. I enjoy teaching – I think – and I thoroughly enjoy my students, but lately, I’ve been feeling dramatically uninspired. I haven’t always been the consummate professional I need to be. I worry the students don’t respect me, or take me seriously. I am anxious about whether or not I’m performing my job to the best of my abilities and become increasingly frustrated at the lack of feedback. I am paranoid, and over analyze every single passing glance in the hallways. I am unsure of what my future holds in a way that I never have been before. And then, I stuff all of this uncertainty down and away from me because I claim it doesn’t even matter; I’m going to be a famous writer. I try to shift my focus and my priorities, but I’m scared. I’m also lazy. It’s almost like I want to wake, make tea and write all day without putting in the work to be able to do so. I know that there’s a prevailing sense of entitlement that could very well doom me. What I don’t know is how I’m going to deal with it, or any of the heartaches and shocks thrown my way.
That being said, I hope you enjoy tonight’s writing prompt. I think it’s silly, and I’m not sure I did it right. But still, enjoy.
PROMPT: Promises for Swing Voters You are running for president of the writing community. What promises do you make to swing voters in your direction?
Authors! Writers! Wordsmiths! Lend me your ears!
Seriously though, I have a few ideas which I believe will benefit the entirety of our close-knit writing community. Admittedly, our community is fairly awesome as is, but there are always areas for improvement. That being said, I propose that any member of the writing community that continuously confuses there, their and they’re shall have their membership immediately and permanently revoked. Is it not a safe assumption that vast majority of the writers within the community are educated, at least well enough that spelling errors should be few and far between?
I am not a tyrant, friends – mistakes are bound to happen! All will not be punished severely. However, those not in favor of the Oxford comma will be upset because it will be mandatory; that particular writing tool makes perfect sense and should be used. Conversely, those who comma splice will find company among those who confuse they’re, there and their. Writing is a craft which must be practiced daily, so while mistakes will be numerous, the quality of such mistakes will be noted and judged.
When I close my eyes and envision the perfect writing world, everyone with talent – real talent – has an agent and thereby a fighting chance. It perturbs me that successful writing is more a vicious cycle than anything else. Publishers look favorably upon writers with agents, but a writer can only easily attain the services of an agent if a writer has been published. If an aspiring author asks someone how to get published, I think the answer would be: “Be published” and I ask you, what kind of answer is that? That’s not to say getting published is impossible, but many promising writers are discouraged, so let’s end the vicious cycle and the exclusivity which is based on mere opportunity rather than more appropriate standards such as talent and tenacity.
That’s the kind of writing community – nay, the kind of world – I’d like to live in.