There is a certain kind of bad writing that occurs when you are between the ages of 16 and 24 and have an audience of one. ‘Self-indulgent’ doesn’t begin to describe it, and in fact to do so would minimize the intense feeling of urgency of budding writers of a certain age who feel called to bear witness to our years of transition. From falling in love to falling apart, the themes are big and the feelings are bigger. It’s all so overwhelming. The only way to get a grip on the given moment – to slow it down long enough to see it pass — is to write it.
I want to experience LIFE viscerally, but at the same time step back and think about it all.
That’s a line from a journal entry I wrote as a trembling, sensitive 19-year old on the eve of my 20th birthday, rediscovered nearly 15 years later whilst looking through the diary pages of my sad, anxious year abroad in Paris. The ink was green on yellowed stationary, and as I read it, I remembered walking the streets of that indifferent city as a virginal college junior — the dank wetness of winter, the diesel fumes, the existential fear of failure that leveled me for hours on my thin cot in the drafty boarding house I shared with a hundred other women, run by nuns.