I have a simple question for you: What is the best thing you’ve written?
I’ve been asked this before, but I always find myself unable to respond. Was it the short story I won an award for in college? Was it the first time I ever got paid? Was it the unfinished, self-indulgent fantasy novel I let my friends read in pieces on the bus ride home? Was it the children’s story I made out of construction paper for my mom when I was just a kid? Was it that even more macabre retelling of the Cinderella story? Was it a random personal journal entry that I wrote in a fit of angst late one night and never let anyone else see?
I’m never sure, and it doesn’t help that I’m always changing. It doesn’t help that I’m always reading and writing, and most of all: going back and revising. The books I like are always changing and the way I write is always changing. My creative writing teacher in high school called me a Romantic (not lower case, not the same thing! she says), a creative writing professor in college thought I was reading too much Virginia Woolf, another professor appreciated my newly discovered minimalism. I’m like a literary chameleon, and I’m always confused how anyone can find something they call a “voice.” I seem to be unable to settle into a style or a genre. I can’t get comfortable or cozy with what I’m working with. I want to write essays, journal entries, poetry, short stories, children’s books, adult fiction novels; I want to play around and laugh, but sometimes I want to unsettle and creep around; I like to dance around in tangents and I like to cut it straight down the middle. I never feel cohesive because each new opened document sits by itself and doesn’t want to have anything to do with the others. My issue has never really been the actual writing process, but just figuring out where to get started with all the sorting and rearranging I have to do.
Am I just a curious wanderer or am I really completely lost?
Maybe this question isn’t so simple if you write a lot, but I’ll still leave it out there. Or let’s rephrase it like this: Is there any particular piece that keeps coming back to you?