Hello, and welcome to the blog.
My name is Brittany, and I always balk when asked to describe myself. I think most of us do—there’s a reason the “personal essay” portion of college admissions packets were everyone’s worst nightmare.
But what do you need to know if you’re trying to decide whether the content of this blog is likely to interest you? That might be slightly easier to narrow down. Let me give it a try:
I’ve been a writer since I was sixteen. I’m the sort of person who still feels a little proud of the fact that at age 7 I didn’t know how to read, but by the end of second grade I was testing at post-high school reading levels. And I’m also the sort of person who immediately feels like she has to make up for the bragging by admitting that she failed math three years in a row in high school and never got past remedial levels in science.
I haven’t had an exciting life, but I’ve had a storied one. Of course, I was perceiving my life in terms of story narratives long before I realized this was at all weird, or that it was a coping mechanism.
I grew up in the south, and I was taught how to read out of the King James Bible. I still consider the most formative event of my life to be the day that my mother came home from Wal-Mart with a stack of “classic” novels that she’d picked up for fifty cents apiece. The summer after fifth grade, I read The Three Musketeers, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Scarlet Letter, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Wuthering Heights. I never did finish House of the Seven Gables, though.
(I still have all those battered fifty-cent copies, even though I had to downsize a library of 600 books to under 100 volumes a couple of years ago. I think this also says something about me.)
When I was sixteen, I found a stack of Wordsworth Edition complete poetry collections for a dollar apiece. I bought the Walter Scott, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron ones and read them cover to cover. Believe it or not, I also consider this to be a formative event in my life. Even though I’d never aspired to be a poet, reading poetry answered a question that was nagging me: I knew I had the tools to be a writer, but what on earth was I supposed to write about? The answer, as I learned it from poetry, was that I could write about anything that was important to me, even if it was only my own unimportant feelings.
Now at the age of 32, I’ve written a couple of novels. I have a literary agent, though still no book contract. I’ve written a lot of very popular fan fiction, however, and in my opinion it’s taught me a lot more about how to be a writer and connect with an audience than my literature degree did.
But this isn’t going to be a fiction blog, at least not primarily. This is the space where I plan to write about everything else.
When I was in 11th grade, I had a teacher who made time at the beginning of the semester for every one of the students in her Philosophy and Literature class to sit down with her for a one-on-one conversation that lasted the entire class period. I don’t remember now what I said to her, but I’ll never forget what she said to me: “One day, one of the books you write is going to be an autobiography, and it will be the greatest book you ever write.”
Back then, that comment felt life an affirmation. Now it feels like a challenge—and even though I’ve struggled to make sense of the way my head works and the things that have happened to me for as long as I can remember, I think this is the earliest age I could have been before I had the tools to tackle that challenge.
So instead of a book, I decided to write a blog. Because even though I’ve always liked to think that I understood that writers must write for themselves, there’s always a kind of arrogance at the back of trying to write a book. It assumes that people will want to pay money for it. I’m not above writing for commercial gain (far from it) but what I hope to get from this blog is better understanding of myself. Much more difficult to attain than money. (Though money helps. But more on that later.)
So who am I, and what am I going to write about? This blog is about language, so I’ll throw some words at you: literature, art, music, mental illness, abuse, media, podcasts, assault, poverty, homelessness, sexuality, LGBTQA identity, social justice, the internet as a homeland, relationships, family, the quest for identity in general.
I want to know my readers too, so if you’re a stranger, tell me about yourself.