Julia was admitted to the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa and I am very happy for her. If you don't know about the Workshop in Iowa, it is the place aspiring writers go to learn how to become real writers, how to socialize with famous writers like TC Boyle and John Irving who actually sell their writing, and eventually become those types of writers themselves. It is a very prestigious program and Julia should be awash with congratulations.
I met Julia about two years ago. I've only spent time with her about three times and shared a sporadic correspondence. While I have never read her creative writing, I'm sure it's very good and I know it means the world to her. I met her when she was suffering from being rejected by all her preferred creative writing programs. So in response, she bundled up her courage and moved to France and lived in a tiny room and bought a typewriter and a bicycle and a lot of wine. I don't know what happened after that. Last I heard, she worked at a summer camp last summer and planned on living in New York. And writing. And writing. Good things come when you do things like that. I have no doubt. I want to wish her as much success as possible.
This letter should end here, with well-wishing and congratulations - but we all know it doesn't. Julia is ten years younger than me. I have never applied to the Writer's Workshop or any workshop. I do not have any body of work that slightly resembles a portfolio that I could submit. I have sat on my ass. I have developed an indecipherable dice game. I have daydreamed about the perfect sacrifice bunt and what it would feel like to be a mockingbird.
Of course, I may not be a writer at all. I may be something else. I may be a potential Buddha, just waiting for the lotus to bloom. I don't know about that sort of thing. I may be a fraud. No, it's the work that I envy, the discipline, and the eventual transformation. It is the possibility of metamorphosis that I am coveting today, and transformation is hard work. Let's face facts: it is a major triumph when I go to the grocery store or get a haircut. That is a full and busy day for me, a day I tell friends about.
The only thing I ever put myself out there for was law school and I folded like a broken lawn chair. I tried to work at it, went to classes, graduated, earned my degree, but don't doubt for a moment that it was disaster. I hated it and, in the end, had about as much enthusiasm for law as I have for a career in landscaping. That is a bitter failure. That was going into chrysalis, only to consumed by a colony of ants. It is fair to say that that experience has left me a little shaken about committing myself. I have dropped my ambitions as if they were a bathrobe and life itself were one long shower.
If I were a praying man, I would pray for discipline, passion and focus. I would write you a letter a day that followed a logical progression, as was my original plan (gone awry in less than two weeks). I would even ask you, who do not care for me at all, and may not even read these letters, for any help you could give, any advice you could offer.
But in the end, I would like to congratulate my friend. And wish her well.