Essay 43: Amongst the Queens
I’ve been trying to write an application essay all week. I feel about writing application essays the way I used to feel about getting carsick: I appreciate that everyone hates it, but I insist that no one hates it more than me. If they hate it as much as me, then why aren’t they kicking up the same amount of fuss? Hmm? I used to feel like this about school galas, also. Everyone standing there in little swimming caps, talking about how much it sucked, and me off to one side like You are all living in Disney World. Let the record show that the only one actually dying around here is me.
The essay is for a writing workshop. It’s such a big deal I can’t even say its name. It takes place over two weeks in August, and everyone who is teaching there is a famous king or queen. I really, really want to go. There is no evidence to suggest that I will get in (everyone who applies is a famous king or queen as well). Even if I did, which I will not, it is massively expensive. Even I did, etc, there is no evidence to suggest that I would like it. A writing workshop is when everyone sits around and shits on each other’s work. It is when people who relish the cut and thrust of shitting on each other’s work get the chance to stretch their legs. They find it invigorating. After they have all just destroyed each other, they laugh and have sex. As for me, I wouldn’t be able to smile ever again. I am so drippy and sensitive, and just waiting for a clever American to expose me as a charlatan. It would almost definitely not go well for me there at the workshop, amongst the queens. I have torn off three nails right now, just thinking about it.
Still. I really, really want to go. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one I think is that if you are at a writer’s workshop, then you cannot deny even to yourself that you are a writer. If people ask me what I do, now, I come over all silent and peculiar. I say that I am writing a PhD, or that I sometimes write for the newspaper. These things are true, but they are not a job. The other day on a plane this lady asked me what I did, and she seemed so nice, and I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I just said I worked in advertising. I have also told people that I was a yoga teacher. Once, when I was very very thin, this guy asked me if I was a ballet dancer and I said yes. No good reason for any of this.
I don’t even know if I want to call myself a writer. I don’t even know if I think a writer is a real job. It’s not, really. Not like how an accountant is a job. But I have been trying to write this application essay all week, and I have been imagining all these strangers thinking that I was a writer, and I have been wondering what that would feel like.