When I was a senior in high school, I did a Creative Writing assignment about a guy who was procrastinating about doing a Creative Writing assignment. It was one of those things that I had known about for a week or more but put it off until the last minute – not exactly an unprecedented event in my academic history.
I was completely embarrassed to hand it in. I felt it was clear evidence of a lazy student with a penchant for procrastination. My teacher thought it was brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that she read it in front of the class a couple days later. I still remember the looks my buddies gave me as Mrs. Etheridge was reading – nay, performing – my piece.
And I don’t blame them. I wrote about all the things I chose to do instead of write my paper – eating popcorn and then flossing my teeth (for probably the first time in my life), cleaning my room, reading all of the non-sports sections of the newspaper, etc. How could Mrs. Etheridge not see right through this?
Another student in Mrs. Etheridge’s class wrote a piece about eating a bowl of ice cream. I don’t recall how long this assignment was supposed to be – 3 to 5 pages maybe – but whatever it was, she wrote the entire thing about enjoying that ice cream. She went into rich detail about scooping out the ice cream, the texture, the color, the flavor, etc. I thought to myself, “Wow, that is fantastic! Why can’t I write like that?” And also, “I could totally go for some ice cream right now.”
Now, my memory being what it is, it’s possible that I’m not remembering all of this COMPLETELY accurately (that’s back-to-back adverbs if you’re keeping score at home), but it boils down to this – I felt like a fraud who got lucky.
Mostly. Moooostly I felt like a fraud. But somewhere deep inside, a small part of me actually believed Mrs. Etheridge. There was the seed of a writer in me and Mrs. Etheridge shined a little bit of light on it that day. And I started believing that maybe I could be brilliant.
In terms of my writing, I still believe I could be brilliant. In fact, at the risk of sounding immodest, when I re-read some of the things I’ve written I do believe I have at least approached the border of brilliant. I’m pretty proud of the book I’ve written and I can’t wait for it to get into the hands of readers because I know it’s going to touch some people. And I know it’s part of my legacy and will be read by my kids, their kids, their kids’ kids, etc. It’s a book that comes directly from my experiences in life and my thoughts and feelings and interpretations of those experiences. And this is where Mr. Fraud comes in.
Dr. Brilliant believes he was meant to write. To author many, many books. But Mr. Fraud keeps saying that he’s meant to write just that one. That he’s not capable of writing creatively beyond his own experiences and he just doesn’t have that many interesting experiences. There are only so many Mrs. Etheridges in the world.
The good news is that I’m determined to find out who is right. Or, at the very least, find an audience who appreciates my particular brand of fraudulence.