College – Copy and Paste
I would like to thank those that read my last post, Introductions First, and all the others that signed up for my future posts. I am eternally grateful for each one of you. I promise to make sure that our short time together is not wasted. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a great New Year! I hope all your dreams and wishes come true in the year to come if they have not already!
Some intellectuals think that writing chooses the writer, and if that is how they want to justify their commitment to their talent then who’s to speak otherwise? From my standpoint as a fiction writer, I tend to see my commitment as an open marriage between my brain, the alphabet, and my keyboard. Writing does not require vows, a public event, a ceremonial kiss, or a one hundred dollar contract that has to be signed by the pastor, a witness, and the new couple and filed away by the county’s deed office. Writing isn’t going to ask you “what’s for dinner tonight” then turn her nose up about the choices you give her. Writing isn’t going to care if you shun her for a couple of days and cheat on her with another vice, hobby, or human being. Writing isn’t going to complain and endlessly question you because your touch and libido has become static and cold. Writing is not going to get jealous if you look at another new laptop or cell phone with wandering eyes and carry her rage out on you whenever you get home. Writing will only get mad at you if you do one thing and one thing alone : not be original and true to yourself as an artist.
My poetry and short story compositions in college were dark and somewhat dreary and to this day I cannot understand why. Some would have called it a phase, but then I start to wonder if that is how I truly saw the world as a teenager. I do not blame the type of music I listened to during my adolescence for affecting my writing style. My home life was balanced, stable, and normal, and I had the greatest parents and family structure that anyone could have ever asked for. With those things honestly admitted and off the table, I guess the reason my writing style was the way it was is for one reason and one reason alone : personal choice. We all have that ability, some of us more than others. People will either use that device wisely while others will simply struggle between the two facades of the scale. I was no exception to this rule back then or even now, and my epiphany showed me that it was going to take a lot of growing up before I mastered the ability to tip the good choice side of the scale in my favor.
One semester, I thought that adding Southern Literature to my resume would look good considering my current major was English. I thought to myself, how hard can this class be? I mean, I live in the South, Southern slang rolls off my tongue like warm molasses, and my dietary intake has been slowly greased by the Southern spoon, so this class should be a breeze. Southern Literature, I’m going to own you and show you who the real man is. As destiny or fate or coincidence or irony (my other soulmate) would have it, what turned out to be an easy A turned out to be my first and only F I have recorded in my academic career. The funny and most ironic thing is the fact that nobody is to blame but myself, and it all goes back to that one free will emotion that I had tried to manipulate over time – choice.
As the semester tarried on, I found myself hanging out with other misguided souls (choice), was not taking my classes as serious as I should have been doing (choice), and got into the worst car wreck I have ever been in. I totaled my beloved Honda Accord at a not-so-polite, notorious intersection known to cause wrecks back home and walked away unscathed (not my choice but very thankful the outcome was exactly that). I, as a person, floundered my life away after that near death experience and continued to tip the scales in what I thought was my favor. Life, like she always does when driving the karma bus, was about to show me otherwise.
For one class project in Southern Literature, our professor gave us a list of famous Southerners and told us to write a seven to ten page paper on two of the subjects he had specifically selected. I chose Elvis Presley and some other person that slips my memory. To me, a then nineteen year old, a seven page paper seemed impossible. The wheels in my brain began to grind, squeal, and lock up in certain places. There were so many things other than school that seemed important to me at the moment, and I knew my professor’s assignment was going to interrupt the flow of my personal free will party. A lightbulb went off in a dark corner of my mind, and whoever turned the switch on was obviously not my friend. By choice, I followed the dim, cool beamed light. There was only one way I was going to write the papers and finish the assignment on time after procrastinating a majority of my time away. I made the conscious choice to do what all the other slackers were doing in colleges across the nation. I was going to copy and paste information from the internet to my paper about Elvis Presley, not cite my sources accurately or properly, and test how open my marriage was with writing.
If you read my last post or can already see how irony is directing this narrative, my professor caught me and rightfully so. There could have been hundreds of excuses, not reasons, that I could have given him and the dean at that time, but I knew it was only going to make a bad situation worse. I accepted my punishment, scolding, and heartfelt advice regarding the situation and received an F for the class. The university gave me my only second chance and allowed me to remain enrolled in their institution. My mishap discouraged me from writing for the time being, and I ended up changing my major from English back to what it originally was, ironically enough, Criminal Justice.
So why is this part of my journey so important to share with all of you? Why would I take one of the biggest fails of my life and incorporate it into a post about my writing experience or lack thereof? How could making an F in a Southern Literature class and almost getting expelled have any relevance to what is going on in the now?
In my last post, I told you that redemption comes in many forms and fashions. The Christmas after the worst semester of my life, my parents bought me a brand new iBook G4 Apple laptop computer. In this post, I talked about writing being an open marriage and making the right choices. After receiving my new computer, I started writing my first fictional novel titled, A Story About Her. The novel concluded two years after its inception and currently stands at sixteen hundred pages. In A Story About Her, I allowed irony to continue to weave its transparent web and chose to name one of my main characters Elvis. Some people would ask “why would you do that”, and I understand the validity in that question. Even though the true answer would be somewhat long winded (like this post, some of you are thinking), my response would be simple.
“Because that’s the way it has to be.”
In my next post, I’m going to share some information in regards to A Story About Her. I’m going to introduce you to Elvis Sexton and Vincent Wayward and confess the regrets I created when I rushed to publish my book independently.
Life, for me, boils down to choice and redemption. The only strings that keep you and me bound and from being able to move forward are the ones we create and attach to ourselves. Don’t believe me? It’s okay! Really!
I didn’t used to either.