In third grade my teacher had us keep a little blue journal where we recorded events about our life that we later read to the class. One boy in my class, who later hung himself in the 11th grade, wrote stories that had the class spellbound and enthralled with wonder and laughter. The power these stories had on my peers was compelling. I began journaling regularly in the sixth grade or so as a therapeutic outlet, first in a hard cover spiral bound paper journal, and later maintaining a digital blog in conjunction beginning at age of 17. I continued this routine activity since, except in 2013, where I made a deliberate effort not to reflect or analyze or relive my life or memories for time. After a year I slowly resumed writing and reclaiming my voice.
I’ve always wanted to write something others would love to read, but I haven’t been able to convince myself that I have anything worth saying. I attempted a NaNoWriMo, and managed to assemble fifty or sixty thousand words of hackneyed, incoherent stories into what I reluctantly and embarrassingly called a novel. It was just a collection of personal narratives, with no common thread. Flashbacks and poignant memories. I studied Philosophy and Economics at Vanderbilt. I wrote extensively for my philosophy classes, but these were more academic exercises, and not a creative catharsis. I’ve always wanted to write something people would enjoy reading.
I’ve never taken a writing class.
What would I like to write about? My life, perhaps? Maybe how the generational influences of my grandparents and parents ultimately impacted and shaped the psychology I carry today. The confluence of generational abuses and shared trauma bonding that thread lives together and create successive iterations of psychological baggage that ultimately result in the conscious experience future generations must cope with.
Coming to age? Drug abuse? Evangelical Christian school? Homelessness? Dropping out of high school? Prostitution? Cover modeling? Materialism? Religious oppression? Spirituality and ego? Psychedelics? Moving every year the first twelve years of your life? Subculture clashes and reconciliation as you strive assimilate and assemble a sand castle identity? Fighting? Being a white kid? Mental illness? ADHD? Attending all boy’s military boarding school? Rape? Shame? Guilt?
Other than my limited personal experiences, I don’t have anything exceptionally interesting to write about. I wish I did. So, if a writing class is nothing more than a therapeutic exercise to become more exacting with my words, I’ll count it a success.
Autofiction? Short story? Novel? I’m not sure. I’d like to weave a grand narrative of my life. I feel like I need to extricate memories.
I recently started reading “My Struggle” by Karls Ove Knausgaard. It’s an inspiring and moving read. JD Salinger’s “Cather in the Rye” is inspiring, and was inspired by my alma mater.
I mostly read non-fiction. Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Science and Technology, History, Essays, Biographies, etc. It’s hard to choose between non-fiction and fiction. Non-fiction feels more pragmatic, yet utilitarian, like I can measure the value I extract from books that tell me how or why things are the way they are, but as I get older, I’m beginning to appreciate the universal, transcendental, metaphorical truths conveyed through the medium fiction, and I’ve found myself hungry for more.
Some of my favorite fiction authors: Ovid, Henry Miller, Dostoyevsky, Paulo Coelho, Rainer Rilke, Herman Hesse.