Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Reading it, I was shocked by how similar my writing voice was to its current incarnation—despite the fact that, at the time, becoming a writer was not even on my radar. I enjoyed writing, and I always have, but as you probably know, until about ten years ago I fully intended to devote my career to some form of visual art.
The other thing that struck me on reading my sixteen-year-old self's words was the fact that I still seem to be struggling with some of the same writing-related issues 17 years later. Despite a few specific details, the speech is almost painfully generic. And even now, I feel like one of my weaknesses as a writer is tendency to fall back on cliché and genericness.
But there are a few things I love about it, too. I love the fact that I inserted a pause specifically in order to "look cosmic." I love the fact that I pretended I was tearing up a fictitious "bad" speech I'd allegedly written in favor of delivering these, er, nuggets of wisdom—a rather theatrical segment which I had to argue for keeping, and was only allowed to perform on condition that I word it carefully so as not to appear controversial (cf. the "this is the speech I could have written" part). I also love the fact that my dad took a picture* of that moment and captioned it with a post-it note ("now you are tearing your speech!").
In some ways, I hardly know what to think about it. Part of me can't help noticing what a risk-avoider I was, in the sense that I could easily have performed my speech with my originally intended wording on the day of graduation with little or no repercussion. But then, in some ways giving a speech at all is a risk of sorts. So I guess it evens out.
*Could not find the picture despite repeated searching. I know it exists, because I remember seeing it in a box a few years ago. Which box? Who knows?