I'm not a best-selling novelist, memoirist or any other legitimate -ist variation. But I do know what works. I know what makes good writing, writing that compels a person to turn the page, click "read more," and invest their time in your words.
I've learned a lot about myself in the years I've been on earth, and I know that I'm not a trailblazer, with very few exceptions. I am, however, a wicked hard worker who will follow directions and improv along the way because I'm very creative. I know that for the most part, "followers" are not celebrated, but maybe not everyone does their trailblazing in the same way.
I think in pop culture. You know in the movie Inside Out, where all the little girl's memories are in colored balls that represent the emotions imbued in each moment? My brain is a lot like that but each little ball is split in two—my memory connected to the pop culture moment that best relates to that moment.
For instance, when I think about how frozen I get when I try to do something big, I'm reminded of a scene from Say Anything, where Lloyd Dobler (John Cusak) turns to some of his boys for advice about girls.
|Street prophets talk choice. Sitting on the curb & on my computer screen.|
Lloyd: I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas N Sip on a Saturday night, completely alone drinking beers, with no women anywhere?
[boys on curb look around at each other]
Joe: By choice, man.
[other boys affirm this statement by talking over one another about their conscious choice to be bros sitting on the curb, eating Funyons and drinking beers.]
Joe, of course, being the Joe that is the object of unrequited love and roughly 87 songs (such as the classic "Joe Lied.") written and performed by Cory.
These guys are the Inside Out like "emotions" in my brain when there's a big task in front of me, something that challenges me, something that scares me. Instead of running at my obstacles with a boom box held aloft, I may be found sitting on the curb, crediting "choice" for my inertia.
[Note: I paused here to watch Say Anything again, as I hadn't realized it had been a while. I have to register my surprise at a moment I had forgotten—the performance by Joe of "The Greatest Love of All" at the graduation ceremony. The best performance of this song of course is by Sexual Chocolate in Coming to America. Plus, I have to think that this is the performance by Joan Cusak that inspired her current character on Shameless. And Eric Stoltz in Pulp Fiction is clearly the grown-up version of Eric Stoltz in this movie.]
Lloyd is a wonderful hero. He blazes his trails. He owns his ideas, he doesn't try to pretend to be anything he isn't, he's confident, he goes after what he wants. All by being the quintessential GenerationX underachiever. I think that's just what they call people who don't want what everyone else wants. Like this:
Lloyd: I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.
My point? Twofold. First of all, it's pretty clear that I'll turn to a lot of things to occupy my time and avoid writing.
Second, you've got to know yourself. Know your voice (mine is steeped in pop culture references). Know your strengths and how to exploit them. Know your weaknesses and how to overcome them. Know that just because you're not following the way everyone else does it? You're not wrong.
Maybe I'm more of a trailblazer than I give myself credit for.
Diane: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?By the power of Lloyd Dobler, I've got this.
Lloyd: No. You just described every great success story.