As a teenager and a Gen X 20-something, I was obsessed with music — buying music, live music, MTV (yes, we all know that was before The Real World ruined… well, the world), reading about music, I loved it all. I hung out with a crowd that obsessed over music. And in that crowd, there was always one kid in the crowd who would pull the most obscure, crap band out of the pile and proclaim it as the next ____________________ (Fill in the blank with The Beatles, Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones, the Hoff.) Every time. The piece de resistance for the inevitable argument was, “Dude, they are *huge* in Germany!” (Or Japan. In the mind of the American teenager, the two are indistinguishable.)
I had a flashback to those arguments during a conversation recently. One of my former professors asked me how my writing was going. Seriously, my cheeks flashed hot. I fumbled with words to write back to her that, well, yeah, I had kinda didn’t do much with it. I told her I had a blog for a while, but I didn’t really have anything to say anymore. I told her I had freelanced for a local paper for a while, but reporting wasn’t really my thing. I told her I can write a mean grant proposal… and I’m *huge* in Germany!
I thought back to my classes with her. She would give back papers by slamming them on your desk and then with her finger jabbing at the paper, say, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” If she didn’t like a passage, it would come with a note to see her during office hours. Then you would sit beside her as she had you dissect your own writing and do it better. She would tell me I had natural ability. When I would demure, she would burst out, “You have a voice, Miss. USE IT.” Grammar and sentence structure can be taught, she said. Writing with a true voice is a gift, she said. But still you must write, she said. Or the voice will become a whisper. (Yeah, she had a flare for the dramatic.)
Her response to my feeble email was short. “I could wax poetic about wasted opportunity, but I will just send this instead:”
Above her signature it said, “I expect a writing sample from you tomorrow.”
Sixty-eight days of summer with a blog post for every day. One down, 67 to go…