|Portrait of a Writer
Author: M. George PM
A brief inclusive study of The Writer.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 3,190 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2954259
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a quick note: Class assignment. The formatting on fictionpress really doesn't make for the easily flowing read I had with separate pages and their pretty footnotes and bullet points, but we'll just have to live with that.
(a biographical study)
The subject in question has many parts, some of which, although contained in the same vessel, are more or less unrelated. To include each part unilaterally in one study would result in, first, confusing exposition and second, a superficial level of exploration.
To our current knowledge, the subject has the following identities: Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Missionary, Reader, Student, Employee, Artist, Teacher, Athlete, Partner, Friend, Girl, Woman, Leader, Confidant, Unnamed Air-Breather and finally, Writer.
This is a study of the Writer.
THE EARLY YEARS
The Writer was born in Logan, Utah, September 29th, 1988. Six months after birth, her family moves to Alaska, where she spends the next seven years. Her windows have to be covered with black trash bags in the summer so she can be convinced to sleep even though it's nine o' clock at night and there is a picture of Toddler Writer standing dangerously close to a herd of moose wandering around the family's front yard. The Writer is the oldest of four children (bossy by nature), has a head of curly blonde hair (she is very cheek-kissable, which adds full-of-herself-ness to bossiness) and manages to get an onion in her stocking every year at Christmas.
From the time of birth to approximately five years, not much writing occurs in The Writer's life, aside from several drawings done on home walls in blue crayon that could—much like cavemen in prehistoric times—be considered early written communication.1
The Writer was also unable to read at this time, but she was read to—the favorite being a story about a giant strawberry and a little mouse. The title of the book remains unknown.
At the end of this era, The Writer's father buys a program called Hooked On Phonics2 and in this manner The Writer learns to read. When she starts kindergarten, she's the only one who knows how.3 One week, when older classmen come to read to her class, The Writer chews out an unsuspecting fifth grader for not reading the words as they are written in the book.
THE ELEMENTARY YEARS
The Writer's family moves back to a very tiny town in Utah called Mayfield. In elementary school The Writer goes to the principal's office several times. Not for serious offenses, The Writer just has a habit of only keeping rules that make sense to her. Not going into the fifth grade hall when all she wants is a drink of water does not make sense. The Writer is smart, but not very cool. She wears glasses and stirrup leggings.
In first grade, The Writer reads her first non-picture book. It is a Choose Your Own Adventure novel she picked up at the Bookmobile. In the first ending, she dies by lightning. It gives her nightmares for three days.
After Choose Your Own Adventure, The Writer reads The Babysitters Club. A lot.
The first good book The Writer reads is Secret Garden. The Writer loves this book. It, and the book Matilda by Roald Dahl, are loved and reread so much they become a part of who she is, as all books we read and love as children inevitably are.
The Writer doesn't write much, but each playtime with her Barbie dolls is an epic series complete with subplots, romance, plot twists and much more drama and adult content than is appropriate for a young girl.
In fifth grade, The Writer wins a drawing contest and gets a free book, a new and relatively unknown young adult novel titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.4
THE MIDDLE YEARS
Middle school, or Junior High, is The Writer's glory era. The Writer is on the yearbook staff, plays basketball and softball, draws goofy comics that everyone loves and gets straight A's. The Writer has a group of friends who are well-liked, fun and "popular." The Writer gets contacts and ditches the stirrup leggings for flare-jean pants (many, many flare jean pants). She also gets her first boyfriend. They hold hands on the bus ride home, but don't talk to each other otherwise, or even make eye contact in the hall. He asks her out with a note that says: Check Yes (it will never happen), No or Maybe.5 It has been theorized that The Writer was somewhat delusional about her rank of importance and orbital standing in the universe.
In sixth grade, The Writer reads Jane Eyre for the first time. It is boring and long and hard to read and is shunned by The Writer.6
The Writer continues to read the Harry Potter series and cries in front of her whole class when they read Where the Red Fern Grows, but essentially becomes "too cool" for reading.
The Writer doodles a lot in her notebooks (especially during Math and Science classes). A lot of people compliment the doodles. The Writer is now a preteen girl and thrives on attention and compliments as if they are oxygen. Consequently, she doodles more and practices with online tutorials to become better.7
The Writer discovers, on her shiny new dial-up internet, the world of fan fiction. Reads a lot of (mostly bad) fan fiction. Writes one of her own about Harry Potter. This document has been lost to the ages, and The Writer prays daily it will never be found.
THE TEEN YEARS
In the middle of her freshman year in high school, The Writer's family moves to another small town thirty five miles away—her current high school's rival. At the same time, The Writer's parents start fighting a lot and between a new high school, a contentious home life and being fifteen, it is not a good time in The Writer's life. The Writer tries out for the basketball team and makes it8. Her teammates become her first friends. She also plays volleyball and tennis.
The Writer has a small rebellious stage where she and friends break into abandoned buildings in their small town and watch scary movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They threaten to kick her out of seminary for skipping so much. Her junior year, her parents divorce. The Writer is told she handles the situation maturely and with grace, a good example to her younger siblings. The Writer believes this until years later when she realizes she wasn't emotionally serene because she was mature, but because she'd shut off her emotions.
But then a really nice boy asks The Writer to prom. She likes him a lot and starts going to seminary again. She becomes the yearbook editor and takes second place in the state tournament with her tennis doubles partner, thus filling her time with more wholesome activities than breaking into buildings. Her mom remarries a man who likes Michael Buble9and The Writer can laugh with. She graduates with an art scholarship to Snow College.
At her new high school, The Writer sits by a pleasant-looking girl in her geometry class. They strike up a friendship. The Writer's friend is always reading a book when she comes to class. The Writer becomes curious and borrows the book when her friend is finished.10 It's like hearing an old song on the radio. Her love for reading is rekindled.
The Writer tries Jane Eyre again (albeit with trepidation) and falls in love and from thenceforth reads it once every year. Discovers more classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations.
With more internet perusing, The Writer discovers Narrative-Roleplaying11 and spends many hours writing up characters and new worlds and mini-series with her friends.
Writes more (slightly better) fan fiction. The Writer is too scared to write something original, unless it is with Narrative Roleplaying and she doesn't have to do it alone.
In embarrassment, The Writer meticulously hides all traces of writing hobby and covers her notebook when an English teacher innocently asks what she's writing one class period.
The Writer's painting is featured on the county phonebook. She is asked to draw the cover of the yearbook and is the star of her Advanced Art class. She becomes the Art Sterling Scholar and takes Runner-Up at regional. Art defines The Writer's high school identity, which is why The Writer doesn't realize she is The Writer, only The Artist.
THE COLLEGE YEARS
Snow College is a community college in the same hometown The Writer has lived in the past four years. It is a wonderful school and The Writer will love it all her life, but it is basically a glorified high school. Her 3D Design class has four people in it. All of The Writer's best friends go on missions, go to different universities, or get married. The Writer is forced to make new friends, an endeavor which is fifty seven percent successful. She spends her first year in a rented out house with four other girls and watches as they get married, one by one. Her second year she moves home because money is more valuable (duh) than pretended freedom.
The Writer is not the best art major. Gets pretty decent grades, but is only drawing during class or if working on an assignment. What she does when she doesn't have to do anything else is write.
The Writer takes a creative writing class. It is the best class ever. As part of an assignment to hand in a short story or first chapter of a novel, The Writer drafts a chapter of an idea she's had since high school. The chapter gets good reviews.12 After the assignment, the Writer keeps working on the novel.
Participates in National Novel Writing Month, and using the idea from the creative writing class, completes her novel. The Writer decides it might be the grandest feeling ever.13
Joins a writing group at her local public library. There are five members, all of which are forty or older. They call themselves "The Gypsy Writers." The Writer is not sure how much her writing actually improves, but she feels more at home with five old people in a basement room at City Hall than in a classroom of young liberal art students.
Takes second creative writing class and participates a second time in National Novel Writing Month, neither of which supplement her education, but she is possibly addicted at this point.
Reads some bad books. Thinks to self, "I can do better than this!"
Reads some terrific books. Thinks to self (with despair and jealousy), "I'll never write anything as good as this, not in a million years."
THE MISSION YEARS
At age twenty one, The Writer is called to serve a voluntary mission for her church in Budapest, Hungary. She spends twelve weeks learning a language in Spirit Prison14 and then marches off to defend the 'Kingdom of God.' The Writer questions her testimony of said kingdom more times than ever before in her life. She learns a language she once thought impossible and falls in love with a people she once didn't understand. The Writer is pretty much in a constant state of tired for a year and a half. The Writer is so moved by the development of her soul15 and relationship to God, she applies to an institution she swore in times past she never, ever would. Brigham Young University.
The Writer travels and learns people are people wherever you go—knowledge which will prove essential to future writing projects.
The Writer doesn't write much, academically speaking, but is caught on several occasions interrupting early morning scripture study to jot down book ideas.
Realizes the second best thing after writing is teaching.
THE BYU YEARS
By what can only be termed a miracle, The Writer is accepted into BYU. At first it is hard to be home. The Writer has changed, but her family and friends treat her like her old self and it makes it hard not to become that old self again. Also, The Writer is dismayed to learn that a mission does not make you perfect and even afterward you will still get impatient and sometimes get your groove on to Lady Gaga.
After some deliberation, The Writer changes her major from Illustration to English Teaching. Soon after, The Writer realizes most academic work up to this point and nearly every credential to her name is art-related and she is starting basically from scratch.
When her mother asks which "fun" class The Writer would like, The Writer requests "any creative writing class." In her advisement session, The Writer's counselor points out that a third creative writing class is unnecessary and unhelpful, adding, "You really don't need this class," to which The Writer responds, "Actually, I really do."
An eighteen month intermission painfully highlights the many mistakes in The Writer's first novel, and she begins a rewrite and starts drafts of two other novels.
THE MOST CURRENT UPDATE
A journal excerpt from The Writer:
In the arts, we love to say things prepped with, "there's no such thing as a bad . . ." insert the word: question, piece of art, opinion, etc., etc. Well, I'm sorry, but there are lots of bad writers. Just read one of those paperback novelists who fall in love with words like zestful and reuse the same phrase he crossed the room in two strides ten dozen times.
Above these are the competent writers, a group which includes the vast majority of us trying to write, I'd say. After them comes the good writers—at least half of the English department could sidle in there (the other half falling in between competent and good). Then there are the Shakespeares, the Faulkners, the Steinbecks and the Charles Dickens—who are writing geniuses, the great writers.
I forget who said this (though I think it was Stephen King), but the basic idea is while you can't make a competent writer out of a bad writer and you can't make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with a lot of hard work and determination, to mold a good writer out of a merely competent one.
This is where I'm at now, as A Writer, trying through sweat and blood and tears to wheedle up to that point where I'm good. Or at least slightly-better-than-average. This stuff does not come naturally to me. Prose almost never flows from my fingertips to the page. I have no innate ability. What I do have, however, is persistence.
And man, I love it. I love it even when it sucks.
Our most updated reference source provides the following three definitions to describe A Writer:
a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
This is the most commonly thought of definition, and perhaps the reason why so many merely "want to be" a writer, or are "aspiring" writers.
a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing.
This isn't, but could be anyone.
a person who writes or is able to write
And this really is almost everyone.
Based on the data, it is proposed that The Writer is who she claims to be. A person who writes or is able to write.
Narrative roleplaying is different than an RPG game such as World of Warcraft, etc. Narrative roleplaying is chiefly done through e-mail or on an online forum. Whoever creates the roleplay chooses the setting of "the novel". Examples might include "England in the Victorian Era", "Western", "World War II Prison Camp", "Medieval Fantasy" and so on. Characters are chosen and it is the job of the writer to flesh out a multi-level and complex character. Next, a scene where the characters would interact is developed and from there the two (or multiple) writers write back and forth responses (usually three to four good paragraphs in length) in the point of view of their chosen character. In narrative roleplaying, you are either Literate/Advanced or Illiterate/Beginner and the people who will judge which category you fall into are very snobby. You have to prove your worth with pretty stellar prose before you are considered worthy to join certain roleplays or write with certain high-rolling RPers. Basically, it is the grown-up version of what The Writer used to do as kid when she "played pretend" with her brothers and sisters. It's still nerdy, and it is with slight embarrassment that this appendix is written.
1 For a depiction of the drawing, please see George Family Scrapbook, under the heading, "Look at our little artist!"
2 An early nineties infomercial phenomenon now the joke of several stand-up comics. (Whatever; it totally worked.)
3 The Writer is still not sure why this was. It was a really small, unassuming town, the North Pole (seriously).
4 At this time, The Writer is about 11. The last Harry Potter movie comes out when The Writer turns 23. It's funny, to The Writer, that Harry Potter is one of the constant influences in the world where she transforms from child to woman. And English professors wonder why her generation of writers all want to write The Great Young Adult Fantasy.
5 The Writer now wonders what a "Maybe" answer would have entailed.
6 Don't judge. The Writer repents later.
7 The only free tutorials The Writer can find are for Japanese animation, and so her drawing style will forever after have a flare of anime, a reputation which The Writer will repeatedly loathe and deny (despite being a closet Dragonball Z fan).
8 The Writer plays basketball the majority of her high school career and never likes it, not even the first day she tries out, but plays because she has decent hand-eye coordination and likes being part of something.
9 Michael Buble fandom improves anybody's ratings.
10 The book was LDS fiction, evidence that The Writer's standards had slipped rather low.
11 For a more detailed explanation of Narrative Roleplaying, please see Appendix A in the back of the study.
12 The first chapter in question was actually not very good at all, but one of the best things a writer can take from a workshop is encouragement to keep writing.
13 That feeling only lasts until The Writer rereads what she's written and realizes most of it will need to be rewritten or thrown in the trash.
14 That is totally a joke. The Writer loved the MTC, actually.
15 The Writer had one, who knew?