Greetings. My name is Andrew, and this is my designated space to talk about how I came to be a writer. So here goes: I was a junior in high school and was tasked by English teacher with this assignment: “What is writing? What does it mean to be a writer? Do you see yourself as a writer and, if so, when did you become a writer?” Never one who liked to do more work than necessary, I took the simple and direct approach and looked the word up in the dictionary. My local lexicographer surely had a beat on what it meant to write and to be a writer. To be a writer, I learned, was simply “a person who writes in a specified way. And to write? “To trace, form, inscribe, or emboss characters, letters, words, etc. on the surface of some material as with a pen, pencil, or other instrument or means.” It then occurred to me that an act as silly as peeing in the snow was, technically, writing. Thus, ever since I had been able to spell my name in the snow, I had been a writer. In ultra-snarky fashion and because I hadn’t yet reached the required length, I then posited that it was no wonder that a notion as slippery as writing would be confused with the fecal excrement expelled from an uncastrated male bovine. It didn’t hurt that I had just recently seen Quills in the movie theater with the Marquis de Sade smearing his final novel on his prison walls with a combination of blood and feces.
What I wasn’t expecting was my teacher having me read the cheeky tome out loud to the class. I had mentioned to someone in conversation what I had written about for that stupid writer essay, and the word had gotten around that, what, I was being bad? It was meant to be funny, I thought, without being thoughtless, surely, the teacher will get that. On the day the papers were returned, the class was cajoling and pestering the teacher to let me read the thing out loud. To her credit, she left it up to me without setting me up or pressuring me either way. So I read it and the whole class laughed and not just because, not even primarily because, it was rebellious. Up to that point at high school, my social standing was non-existent. I had always been something of a loner who took things as they came, talking to people around me but also drifting in between groups. I never had a lot of close friends, but I also never felt ostracized. I never even felt afraid of being ostracized—at least not since I had left middle school, anyway. And so little did I know at the time, this assignment would give me the reputation as the “smart class clown” which allowed the rest of my high school to “get me” and before long, making friends and getting invitations to things started happening without me even trying. The ability to share my weirdest thoughts in a form that would be positively received by others was a revelation. I was hooked. The blank page continues to serve as an open canvass for me to express things that are too weird or too easily misunderstood to be shared in the moment.
I suppose there may be some people who want to know more about my actual writing credentials, or even my resume. I point out my years of experience within my posts as warranted, but that’s too much like school and work, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid in this blog space.