Friday, September 14, 2007

1:30 am and alone with my thoughts.

I just spent all night trying to do application related things: put together recommendation packets for my lovely recommenders; relearned geometry for the GRE; attempted to update my resume for the first time in three years; tried to even start a SEMBLANCE of my personal statement (or one of, I should say). Then I had a minor panic attack because I thought one of my schools was a complete poor choice on my part and maybe I should reconsider. Then I thought "maybe safety?" and then thought "what if they don't want me either, and it's totally not a safety?" Then I wondered if I should start sending out more stories to places, and this time aim. Really. Low.

I'm obviously reaching a nighttime lull. You know, the kind of depression that creeps out from the corners late at night because you should be in bed and dreaming, but instead it's quiet and eerie and darkish and you hear nothing but the slight smattering of your blinds as a car rumbles by....... And that's when you feel all alone and bad about everything you've ever done or tried to do.

Okay, things aren't as bad as all that. I'm being melodramatic. I'm just tired. And stressed.

I didn't get any reading in today either.

I don't know what this has to do with anything. I feel a little like I dropped the ball. But it's 1:30 am and I wanted to pretend someone was out there, I guess.

But so that this isn't a completely book-devoid entry, I'll leave you with what might be an answer to a certain question. This thought that's been floating in my mind since I started thinking personal statements and why and what and how.

Four years ago (maybe almost 5), on a night similar to this, I was up doing reading for one of my college classes. Of course it wasn't 1:30 am, it was probably more like 5:30 am because this is what I did - I stayed up all night and slept by day, and went to my afternoon classes.

Anyway, one of my literature classes - one of the few I took during my time at school - assigned a slew of short stories and handouts that week. Included in the assignment was Edwidge Danticat's "Children of the Sea". I've mentioned this story. I know. But the way it ends is heartbreakingly beautiful, and although out of context, this means nothing, it remained one of my favorite quotes for many years, something I've used in AIM away messages, Facebook profiles, something that's written on a digital sticky pasted to my desktop wallpaper on my laptop, something I can pretty much recite by heart:

From here, I cannot even see the sea. Behind these mountains are more mountains and more black butterflies still and a sea that is endless like my love for you.
--["Children of the Sea", Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat]

It was after closing these pages, smoothing my hands over the glossy cover and letting her words soak through my system, that I realized something really really important about fiction. About prose. About words. The power they hold. To touch us, to change us. To point out our humanity. To remind us of our humanity. I had always loved to write, but I think it was the first time it truly, truly hit home for me what was special in it's art. It wasn't just the recreation of fanciful tales. Not for me anyway. And in that moment, something became very clear to me, and I wrote the following blog entry (elsewhere than here, obviously) - excuse the melodrama and triteness, but it was five years ago:

I realized today, early in the morning, that I, above all things, want to be able to touch people with my words.

I want to be able to make people feel alive, be able to make them feel beauty and sorrow and all that humanity and the world encompasses. I want simple words to somehow strike a chord that has no words, I want trivial sentences to uplift and quiet, I want to capture what is not visible, I want to infuse people's hearts with love and joy and sorrow and bittersweet... I want to remind people of the beauty that cannot be seen and only felt, to leave something behind that lingers in their minds and hearts, to let them feel what they've never felt or have forgotten.

I think everyone in this world wants to touch others somehow... and for me, I've just realized, I want to do it through my words.

Why do I want to be a writer? It has everything to do with that moment after I finished Danticat's piece, this feeling I just could not capture in words but realized that more than anything, I desperately wanted to.

2 drops:

vivian said...

...and that's what you should say in your personal statements, angelle...all of them.

Maria said...

Yes...THAT should be your focus. I was moved. They should be too...

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