This is Not What I Thought I'd Write
This is my very first story for Assemblage so I want it to be perfect. I want you, dear reader, to feel immensely inspired, entertained, educated, and motivated — all while being so impressed by my impeccable talent for writing that you throw out all your copies of Shakespeare or Stephen King (or whoever you love) to marvel at my greatness instead.
See, I recently decided that I’d like to Make It™ as a writer; in other words, I’d like writing to ascend from a side hobby to my full-time career. And in order for that humble (or is it outlandish??) dream to become a reality, I feel a lot of pressure to dazzle readers right away.
Most people have precious little time in their busy lives available for reading, yet endless reading options clamor for their clicks. Editors and clients have even less time, with their inboxes filled to Gmail’s or Outlook’s limit with pitches.
So, I have to be great. Not mediocre. The Simone Biles of writing, not some gal who made it to the Olympics but took home less than five medals. (Pffft, what a loser.)
I also want readers to immediately “get” my voice—my sense of humor and whimsy, my ability to mix sarcasm with vulnerability, my willingness to tackle uncomfortable subjects, my love of wacky wordplay and metaphors, my overuse of em dashes and references to my cat.
I want to be understood, admired, appreciated. I want to be SEEN.
That’s a tough call for a single story. How can one piece of work convey all that?
Hence, my indecisiveness.
Confession: I sent Jonathan, the creator of Assemblage, four ideas for my debut story. This — the mess you’re reading right now — isn’t one of them.
See, I wanted Jonathan’s feedback on which sort of story would be best for introducing myself to new readers and kicking off Assemblage as a whole. Should it be a short true story from the archives of my personal life? A gem of inspirational thought packaged as a life lesson? A humorous takedown of a cultural trend? A critical analysis of whatever the hell bitcoin is?
What would be best??!?
WHAT WOULD BE BEST?!?
I spent nearly a week mulling this over. The question “what will I write first for Assemblage?” followed me, continually sneaking into my brain like a 90s R&B song lyric as I went about my days.
Nothing seemed quite right.
“Oooook”, you may be thinking, “but why are you telling us all this?!”
Because I suspect you — all creative folks but especially writers — can relate to my dilemma. You’ve felt self-imposed pressure. You’ve experienced procrastination by paralysis. You’ve worried that any work you put forward will be the wrong choice of work.
Well, I’ve realized that it. does. not. matter. I’m saying shut up, brain! Shut up, my anxiety! Shut up, reader!
(Wait, no scratch that last one. I’m sorry, reader; I LOVE YOU!)
The sad reality of people having such little time to read is also a positive thing. It means that if I put out a real stinker of a piece, a reader is likely to just close the tab and forget all about it, moving on to another article, YouTube video, or Buzzfeed quiz that’ll reveal their ideal pancake topping.
A scorned or disappointed reader is likely to give me another chance to woe ’em, without even realizing it. Because with all the daily memories vying to get stored inside their brain, they likely won’t recognize my name.
I’m forgettable. You’re forgettable. How freeing!
So, there you have it: my first story for Assemblage. I know it wasn’t perfect. Maybe it wasn’t even very good at all. But that just means I’ll have to keep doing what I plan on doing: writing, writing, writing — wearing you and editors down until you‘re forced to love me.
P.S. I have no idea what my next story will be. How exciting!