To write, again

by Jessica Lohafer

I think good work dies due to hesitation.

My life as a writer has been fueled by tangible goals, the things I could touch, believe in, or facilitate. Somewhere around six someone put a pen in my hand and suggested that things were worth recording. Reason enough, as a child, for me to write story after story. Then came elementary school and (joy of joys!) people wanted me to turn these things in. I realized quickly what I wanted most: to write what I thought and read it out loud. Seventh grade gave me genre; home sick from school, my teacher sent me my homework. I was supposed to write a poem. And while the poetry communist in me feels we shouldn’t rate writing, that all work accomplishes different but equally important goals, it is significant to note that on this particular assignment I got an A. One hundred percent of the possible points. More than that, it was validation, proof positive that my work was good, that it had appealed to someone other than me. This feeling, to be appreciated, carried my artistic endeavors through an onslaught of adolescent doubt, held me together even under the oppression of my 10th grade English teacher, who graded me down because she didn’t “care for my writing style.”

This was a minor setback, compared to every other encouragement I encountered. From community college to college, I was told, “this is good, Jessica. Keep going.” I lived for deadlines and first drafts. Third drafts. Final drafts. Complaining the whole time but loving it. The panic of page count is something everyone should feel, the fear of not producing enough, fast enough, and the welcome rush when you succeed.

But what now?

Nine days away from turning twenty-five and one bachelors degree in literature later, no one is telling me to write anymore. I work at a Starbucks and dodge my student loan payments. I worry I’m painfully close to a slow middle class demise; if I continued doing what I’m doing now for the rest of my life, not many people would notice. Aren’t I offered health insurance through my job? Yes. Stock options? Yes. What is there to complain about?

Not much, truthfully. But I want my deadlines back. I want creative urgency, to be held accountable again. I want to be a practicing writer and so I am reaching out. And while this medium might be unfamiliar to me, I have every hope it will serve its purpose. I still want what I’ve always wanted: to write what I think and read it out loud. I only hope you will be so kind as to listen.

To new beginnings.