People ask me this all the time: What do you want from your writing? I always get the feeling that they want me to write them a story on the spot. “I want to be a NY Times bestseller with a nice car and be everybody’s buddy.”
They want me to stay something stupid. They want to roll their eyes and click their tongue at my rockstar delusion. “Now you know…”
It’s easy to do that, isn’t it? It’s easy to assume that people have wild dreams. And I should have wild dreams because I’m supposedly wired to have them.
But I don’t. Do I want to quit my day job? Fuck yes, I want to quit my day job. I want to take that eight hours a day and use it to create art. I want to put the personal energy resources that are bottomed out daily by playing chicken with anxiety disorders and agoraphobia as a glorified minimum-wage earning receptionist into something that replenishes me instead of tears me down. Still, this change can come from elsewhere, I’m not depending on my art to dig me out of this mess. Also, it’s not why I write.
Do I want people to like me? Who doesn’t? Yet, I’d prefer that people understand me, which is a component to why I write. I don’t expect anyone to actually give a fuck about me in particular. I’m complicated, overdramatic and at times a counter-argument to my own deeply held convictions. I want to communicate how it feels to be me and see if it reverberates with anyone else. You don’t have to like me, but I want to feel as if I’m not entirely alone — as if some aspect of me is universal — which for me has mostly come through artistic expression.
Even in the best case scenario, do I want runaway commercial success? Probably not. That sounds stressful. I want to quit my day job and join the conversation of artists and critics and feel the world through that conversation. But I’d prefer to feel it through the safety of my own home office.
It’s hard for me to say this to people when they ask me what I want. It seems abstract, hokey or disingenuous when relayed in awkward clips of ill-arranged thoughts spoken by a woman who won’t hold eye contact for more than a few seconds.
I want to feel connected to people but not depleted. I want to be cut off from the community but accessible through better avenues. I want to fully explore what it is to be human and what parts of that experience can be communicated to others through artistic expression.
And so now you see why I pause awkwardly whenever someone asks me, “What do you want from your writing?”