For those of you who haven’t yet heard the news, I finished my bachelor degree almost two weeks ago. Good news, hooray, whoopee!
Like many other graduates who strenuously persisted through this bore of a course, I have no intention of practising in the field that I have studied. Wearing a suit everyday, from 8am til 6pm, Monday to Friday, and sometimes on Saturday, for the rest of my life, until death do us part, is not a coffin I have any interest in lying in. The legal world is not one I want any part of, nor is it one that I will fall into upon all else failing.
I have no safety net. And I prefer it this way.
The question then is: What will I do with the rest of my life? And the answer to that is extraordinarily simple:
I will write. And aside from writing, I have not the slightest of clue.
But you want to know what the funny thing is; unlike many other writers, I don’t consider myself to be a writer. My childhood didn’t involve me buried under cotton sheets with a flashlight, staying up past my bedtime so I could indulge in the classic words and works of the Dickens’s and the Joyce’s and the Blake’s. The only time I ever felt a desire to write a novel was when I was 10, where I wanted to prove a point to my teacher that writing a “long story” couldn’t be so difficult; from memory, I wrote about 2 pages before I got bored. My parents were never educated nor had they any interest in the liberal arts, and so pursuing a path of writing was never considered a noble pursuit nor was it ever or at all encouraged; law school was the only virtuous pathway as it was perceived as a means of providing for a prosperous future that would gain me an acceptable social standing – something that is apparently common in immigrant families of the lower-middle classes.
No, I didn’t grow up wanting to become a writer, I had no appreciation for the master wordsmiths until my late teens, and though I had always shewn a natural ability to play with words in English and in my studies of literature, this was merely, in my mind, a way to obtain a score that was high enough to gain me entry into law school.
So why then, do I claim that I have no choice but to “be” a writer, per se?
It is simple:
Because I’m crazy!
People ask me why I don’t just become a lawyer, and write on the side. Or, why I don’t find a regular full time job, and write on the side. Or why I don’t find part-time work as a retail assistant or a barista, just so I can do enough in order to get by, you know, to live under a roof and eat real food, and write on the side. And, though I understand how difficult it must be for some to believe or understand this, I just can’t.
It has been documented that Ludwig Wittgenstein, a famous philosopher known for his work on logic and mathematics, did not actively seek out to solve philosophical problems, but rather, his tendency was to be struck by such problems almost against his will. “Its dilemmas were experienced by him (Wittgenstein) as unwelcome intrusions, enigmas, which forced themselves upon him and held him captive, unable to get on with everyday life until he could dispel them with a satisfactory solution;” taken from Ray Monk’s account of Wittgenstein, The Duty of Genius. And it is in this same way that I am held captive to my own mind, which will not allow me to pursue anything other than the object of its own desire.
I have been burdened with an overactive imagination since childhood. And though it sometimes has its benefits, sometimes it’s a plain pain in the ass. For one, it has caused my body to feel depression to extremes that have had me contemplating suicide for years on end, without remission. It has meant that developing relationships with people is rather difficult, leaving feelings of isolation, segregation and loneliness to burgeon within my being from out of nowhere. And yes, it has also meant that in order for me to maintain my sanity, or at the very least, any vestige of sanity that intermittently surfaces for me to clutch at, I must provide a conduit through which these mental frustrations are allowed to vent.
My success as a writer is not at all important to me; what’s important is that I write, and that I am free to write whenever, whatever, and however.
In the same way that lactic acid can, in extreme circumstances, poison the person pushing his or her body beyond its natural limits, my mind acts as a poisonous sort of cancer to my body if it is not granted what it wants.
Without intending to sound like a dramatist:
I don’t live to write, I write to live.
That sentence made me vomit in my mouth a little, but indeed, it is quite true.
This passion of writing would be more aptly labelled as an addiction. I, the person behind the brain, am a slave to its persuasion. I don’t particularly like the idea that my options are so limited, but I just don’t have a choice.
Humans-are-thinkers. Sometimes, people’s thoughts get the better of them.