Well, to be clear, I haven’t made much of anything yet, but the Roman Poet Horace sure did:
Exegi monumentum aere perennius,
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum.
For those of you whose Latin is a little rusty, Horace is boasting that he made a monument more lasting than bronze and higher than the great pyramids. This monument will never be eroded by harsh rains, the wild North wind, or the countless succession of years and flights of seasons. Any guesses what he built it with?
Words. Horace, with his poetry, was able to avoid the grave and get a small taste of immortality. Even though he has long since passed, his words have survived centuries. At least in the hearts of Classics students, that is.
My goal is a little less noble. Sure, the idea of my name living on through the ages sounds incredible, but at this point I would settle to simply get my story out of me. It’s been building in my chest since high school, and my ten year reunion is right around the corner. I was too scared to pursue writing in a serious way in college, and without the proper “credentials,” I neatly folded up that dream and filed it away in the back of my mind.
That is, until, I found a note from teen self. When I moved to Texas in 2012, my parents sent me with a box of childhood records and other paraphernalia: report cards, awards, vaccine records, and countless other papers I kept in a box stuffed under my bed. Are you picking up on a theme, here? I decided to peer into the abyss a few months back, and I found something interesting stuck against my official Drivers Education completion certificate. It was a letter I wrote to my parents when I was 15 imploring them to let me take Drivers Ed in the summer so that I would have an extra block available during the school year. It’s a cringe-worthy read, but it was illuminating.
… I absolutely refuse to take Driver’s Ed through school. Take that as you will, but I will not give up my art class to spend 50% of my time in a Study Hall versus actually learning something. I want to do something with art or writing when I’m older… and come Junior year, the creative writing class will be pushed off to Senior year! There are so many things I can do through school that are related to what I like to do..! And I’m not going to throw a good period away for something that can take only 4-5 weeks. Unlike you, I will not be able to sit in an office space for 40+ hours a week. That’s just.. not something I can do, nor do I want to. When I’m in art, just drawing or writing with my free will… it’s relaxing. It’s how I relieve my stress.
Oof. There is a lot to unpack there, I know. The joke is on 15 year old Shannon, though: I do work in an office, I am stressed (clinically), and I systematically ignored the creative side of my personality because I was too terrified to be vulnerable enough to explore it. My teenage self would be mortified.
No more, though! I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo last year and returned to a story that was born in that very same creative writing class alluded to above. I have 80,000 words of a beautiful mess that are all mine.
I hope to find out. Will you join me on this journey?