I got an email today regarding my writing.com account. Today, (or nearly) marks my twelfth anniversary on said site. I haven’t used it much, first being too self-conscious to share my work, then after too unimpressed with the feedback I’d get to continue doing so. Each time I got into the various colleges that I’ve attended on and off the past decade I hadn’t time to write for fun, or later, hadn’t need for sporadic online feedback when I got professorially enforced and direct critiques from classmates. The quality of it mayn’t have been any better in some cases but my fellows’ grades relied on their completing critiques, so I was at least assured of multiple comments on a thing.
The email I received today had nothing much to do with writing so much as the length at which I’ve taken doing so seriously. More specifically, it’s been twelve years since I first considered writing a craft or marketable skill. Neither description fully encompasses the sensation, as most writers would agree. Twelve years ago, as I sat in my high school’s library, I had my first sense that writing was something important, necessary to me. It was something that could be good in the way a Rembrandt outshines your local coffee-shop denizen’s doodled masterpiece, it was something I could work at, improve, something that had nuances and layers of quality. I, for the first time on 14 march 2004, had the idea that I could be a writer in the full sense of the word, in the sense that I would write for a living, living in the vernacular, monetary sense, and in the intrinsic sense, the sense that as long as I was alive I would write.
Twelve years seems both a tiny and a tremendous time period. I made quartos with collage cut magazine pictures and magic marker scrawl when I was four, nearly a quarter century ago, so I’ve been making books for more years than that striking twelve. My first writing recognition, when I read an essay to news cameras and the governor’s wife, came when I was in the first half of grade school. My last came a few months ago with the Humanities Award. Twelve does not mark the years since I started writing, nor those I’ve been writing in earnest. It’s a milestone to remind me of time passing and those accomplishments I’ve mustered. Mostly it serves as a memento mori, something to spur me on with the sentiment that those who don’t produce are reduced to obsolescence, the death in that case, is irrelevance. I endeavor to never be that.