Back to School, Sort Of

Today I went back to my old high school to talk to the kids. Something about “inspiring them to achieve their dreams through hard work, you can be anything you want, blah blah blah.” I think most of that is true, but it feels weird to be on the other side of that speech. I don’t know if the kids really bought it.

Everyone treats the fact I wrote a novel to be some amazing achievement. It’s not. It’s the natural culmination of what I’ve been doing since I was right there in the chairs those kids were sitting in. I wasn’t struck by dumb luck or divine inspiration. I went to college for Creative Writing. I graduated and started writing for magazines. I paid my dues. I did all the Charlie-work. I fine tuned my craft. It’s not like this came out of nowhere.

Maybe that’s the point. You can one day say “I’m gonna write a novel,” and do it, but it will probably suck. Writing is like any other craft. You have to study. You have to practice. You have to work your goddamn ass off to get good.

A lot of people ignore that. They take short cuts. It shows.

But back to the topic. I really don’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary, because it’s something that I’ve done all my life. If I was to suddenly star in a movie or fly a plane, that would be extraordinary. A writer writes, that’s what he’s meant to be. Writing is like breathing, and there’s no other way for a writer to live.

So I went back to school. I said a few words, signed a book, took pictures with the staff and kids. All the while I was thinking about what to write next.

I told you, it’s like breathing.

PS: I almost forgot, yesterday was my birthday. Happy happy, blah blah blah


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