Hey, writing is hard, has anyone mentioned that yet?
Last night, during our thesis class, Megan explained how tricky the rewriting process is.
Megan: I’m trying to do this high-wire act with my play as it is, what happens when a 50-pound bear cub falls on me?
Zury: I can see the expression on the bear cub’s face as it’s falling on you. [bear cub noise]
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ.
In addition to my thesis play, one challenge I’ve been struggling with is writing artistic statements for applications for grants, and fellowships and residencies… it is seriously time consuming, and very, very hard to do. Because that’s not how you usually write. You usually try your best to write subtextually, subtly, to let your characters tell the story and not beat your audience over the head with what your story is about. I don’t think any writer sits down at their desk and thinks, “Ah, now I will write a scene that will encapsulate the duality of a bi-racial existence in a post-post-racial world with ironic elegance and just a hint of pathos”, no, mostly you’re just sitting there trying to figure out how to make your story not suck.
And so now I’ve had to teach myself to write artistic statements that really just seem to be an exercise in humble-bragging in 1000 words or less. ‘Here is why I’m so awesome you should give me the money/the stipend/food and shelter/fame and glory, but not so awesome that you’re put off by my self-important pigswill. Here’s why my writing will CHANGE THE WORLD, even though, really, has a single play actually changed the world yet? Has it really? Call me if it has, I should probably read it.’
My first round of statements are done for now, and I might share them later if I draw up the courage, but here’s what I really wanted to share this week. As I was angsting about these applications, and questioning my life choices, I stumble across this absolutely perfect, brilliant, heart-breaking quote by certified genius Junot Diaz, who just off-handedly says it all.
“You guys know about vampires? You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?’ And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might seem themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
– Junot Diaz, Speaking to students at Bergen Community College
I found this quote on the Facebook page of the awesome Tumblr Dark, Lovely and South Asian.
Thank you, Mr. Diaz, you beautiful soul. I am pinning this quote up to my wall now.
And because it’s Friday, and because I think Mr. Diaz would appreciate it, let’s have some Grover.