My traditional education experience was somewhat schizophrenic. I attended Smith College as a theatre student who couldn't act. I also had a sociology minor, but thanks to my social anxieties I avoided talking to people, an essential skill for a sociologist!
What I did have under my belt though, was an absolute love of reading. I read (and still do) anything I can get my hands on. I love a book I can loose myself in so completely that I become another person, live another culture, revel in the sorrows and pain of a life I have never lived. I’ve made it my life's mission to find the books that are the most interesting, most unique, best crafted pieces of writing I can find. It's been a hit or miss endeavor, but in the end it's been worth it.
This is not to say that I don't enjoy a good NYTs best seller now and then. Hell, I'm one of those "twilight people" you've been known to make fun of (don't pretend you haven't). I love a good new Sookie book and often pick up whatever the newest big thing is when I'm at the airport. But left to my own devices, I'm more likely to check out the newest release from Interlink Books than Random House.
This has inspired my writing. I’ve held onto this idea of writing the story that I believe in, not the one that will sell. It also got me through college thanks to an English professor who took me on as a project.
In the words of Luc Guilleman, "everything you write is wrong but somehow it works!"
During my senior year he threw his hands up and said, "Fine, write it however you want, we'll fix it later" and sent me on my way to begin writing my Senior Thesis paper. I spent the next six months, writing and editing while simultaneously directing the play that would correspond with the paper. Directing and Dramturging a full length piece with a unique approach and student designers/actors turned out to be the easy part. The paper gave me fits. I desperately tried to understand the structure of quality writing.
January arrived and my Production of "The Trojan Women" by Euripides opened. Thanks to the amazing men and women I worked with, it was a success. We opened to a full house and received rave reviews from the college papers as well as local news organizations and the theatre community.
But the paper still sat, mocking me with its incomplete state.
I had two working titles, as divergent in theme as they were in style: "Helen of Troy; victim of her times or whore" and "The Effect of the Peloponnesian War of Euripides’ Interpretation of the Trojan Women."
The Helen of Troy paper inspired the Smithie Feminist within me as well as the rebellious part of me that wanted to explore our assumptions about her character.
However, the Euripides paper was more likely to pass the thesis review board.
So I wrote both. The second semester of my senior year was light on class work (although I did take a particularly awesome Indian Dance Class), and I spent most of my time writing. Half way through the semester I presented Professor Guilleman with both papers.
After reading them, Luc called me into his office. Sitting his chair with his long spindly arms holding up his head he spoke the infamous words: "Everything you write is wrong, but somehow it works!"
At his suggestion, I abandoned the Euripides paper and devoted myself to working on the Helen of Troy idea. In the end, I did not receive Thesis credit for my work, but what I did earn is of significantly greater value: reaching the people who read your work is incalculably more important than fitting inside someone else's mold.
As an adult, my "wrong" way of approaching work and writing has led to success as a business woman, a human being and an author. I would have never learned that without having read some amazing transgressive books and the exasperation of one Professor Luc Guilleman.
About the Author
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