It's been a while since I updated the blog, I know. I'd blame writing for National Novel Writing Month, except that I got about seven hundred words in and realized that I was writing garbage just to make a word count. That's not how I want to write. I write because I have something to say, something to challenge others with or make them think about. I write because it lets me get into another mindset, see things from a different angle, and hopefully show other people that same view. Having a story is nice, but it's merely the vehicle for the ideas I'm exploring. That is what inspires my writing, both fiction and non-fiction.
I realized this while talking with a co-worker about my short story "Rose Briar." To my embarrassment, I discovered that I had monologued excitedly for almost ten minutes about the themes and twists on conventional thought that the story explored. This got me thinking about other subjects that I am passionate about - things that I can talk or think about for hours at a time. Specifically, I started thinking about my interest in psychology.
This interest started over ten years ago, though only within the last two years did I realize the subject that occupied my internal pondering had a name. Way back then, a stranger complimented my thirteen year-old self on my lack of accent. The seemingly innocuous comment sparked a deceptively simple question: "What do other people sound like to themselves?"
Of course it is impossible to know exactly what other people sound like to themselves, though you can get an approximate idea by comparing your own voice recorded to how you sound to yourself. But the question got me thinking about how people think about themselves and others, and the things that influence those thoughts. For years I made quiet observations of myself and the people around me, noting wherever possible what assumptions were made and why. In college I learned everything I could about other cultures and religions, fascinated by the way two people could literally think in different ways about seemingly very basic concepts, such as what made something morally right or wrong.
Then two years ago I took Psychology 101, and it was like discovering Mozart after years of never knowing music existed. For the first time in my college career, I had a class that I was always eager to do the homework for, work that never bored me or frustrated me. Not to say that the class was easy, but occasionally the text would cover a concept that I had already worked out for myself, but simply never known had a name. Those moments excited and encouraged me when wrestling with other, more difficult concepts. Even more exciting, though I didn't realize it right away, was the fact that at last I had found a subject that I was truly passionate about, one that could lead to a degree and ultimately a career I could be equally passionate about.
It took two years of bouncing around the DC area before I settled down enough to seriously start looking into going back to school, but a few days ago I decided it was time to stop stalling and get serious. Last night I submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. I don't expect them to offer me much, if anything - for some reason I am still considered a dependent and my parents make too much money for me to be likely to qualify for any grants. But it is still a good starting place from which to negotiate with the Financial Aid departments of various colleges.
For the first time in my adult life, I think I might actually know what I'm doing with my career.
Wish me luck.