When Writing Pays Off
When you declared as an English major you heard questions like, “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?” and when a piece of yours finally published you heard questions like, “Oh, so how much did you get paid?” and when you worked three jobs to support your passion you asked yourself how you were going to survive. You bleed on paper only to have people criticize and you create works of art only to have them edited down and you’ve read the word “rejection” so many times it doesn’t look like a real word anymore.
But writing pays off.
It pays off when someone sees themselves in your syntax and under your paragraphs and behind your syllables. You can bring them places they’ve forgotten or expose pieces they’ve hidden or lead them to the strength they’ve misplaced.
It pays off when you can’t seem to understand or comprehend or digest the constantly changing world around you. Surroundings seem blurry and people seem cryptic and the unending questions that cause synapsis to misfire are as debilitating as your inability to understand. So you sit and you inhale and your fingers begin to type and before you know it you have stopped breathing. You’re now exhaling through feverish fingertips and the world’s constant changes begin to slow, if only for a moment.
It pays off when GM asks you to drive a 2014 Camaro Coupe for a week in order to write about the experience. You have been living paycheck to paycheck for as long as you can remember, silently cursing your unreliable 2002 Volkswagen while loathing the idea of another bowl of Top Ramen. Now you’re sitting in a front seat that feels more like a cockpit and sinking into leather that feels like success while trying not to notice the stares and whistles and double takes.
It pays off when you share a piece with one person and one person only. You open up your existential self and display hidden cognitive thought and discuss the unending mysteries only a complicated existence like humanity can provide. Your conversation is stimulating and passionate and intoxicating and it all started with the written word.
It pays off when you see your name in print for the very first time. There are no words to explain the emotion that fills the places in your bones where marrow should be.
It pays off when you read comment section after comment section. You’ve stripped yourself down and you’re naked in front of strangers and they’ve taken the time to tip you their two cents. Some comments are supportive and some comments are intriguing and some comments remind you that you will never be liked by everyone. And yet, every comment helps you learn and grow and become the writer you will never stop striving to be.
You may eat more Top Ramen than humanly possible and work 18 hour days, six days a week and never know what it’s like to be financially stable. You may have to answer questions about your pay or choice of major or how it is you survive, but writing is worth it. You have intellectual conversations and moments of absolute clarity and shared human experiences to look forward to. You have people to find with your words and lessons to explain with your syntax and worlds to create with your paragraphs.
And hey, there’s always the Camaro.
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Nobody actually expects you to act like an adult for a while.
“What are you going to do with an English degree?”
I’m finding it hard to muster any sympathy for this asthmatic leatherneck. Instead, there is only contempt.
He noted that during trial, the women (we made up three out of the four mockers) mumbled to ourselves in between questioning witnesses.