Monday, March 25, 2013

"Perfect Life" Leaves Student Wishing For Writer's Angst

Dear Tazi:

I am a junior in college and I want to be a serious writer but my problem is that my life is too perfect. All the great writers of the world have had major issues, from Emily Dickinson (reclusive, possibly Autistic) to Ernest Hemingway (alcoholic, depression, etc.). I had an amazing childhood; my parents are putting me through school so I don't have any students loans to burden me once I graduate; I have an amazing boyfriend who wants to marry me once I am done with school. I seriously have no major angst from which to draw!

I am seriously thinking of moving into a homeless camp this summer in order to live a life of hardship among people who know how harsh the real world is. My friends all say I am crazy, and my parents are dead set against it, saying that it is too dangerous, but I think I need to see how the other half lives if I am ever going to write a truly amazing novel, one that is destined to become a classic!

I have asked my Writing professors for advice on finding a way to dig deeper into my soul for inspiration, but they have all told me that each person's journey is their own; that rather than looking into my soul I should try looking into another person's soul in order to work on my character development. To me, this is basically telling me to go ahead with my summer plans!

My parents know that I am strong-willed, and have offered to send me to Spain for the summer, to study the footsteps of Hemingway. As tempting as this sounds, I still feel like it is taking advantage of privilege, not adversity. Which path do you think I should take?

Future Author

Dear Future Author:

You have been very blessed in life, and I believe that in spite of your complaints about it that you are truly grateful for the opportunities with which life has graced you. While it is true that a lot of great writing has sprung forth from a well of sorrows, not all great writing has been inspired by suffering. Alice in Wonderland, for example, was actually a political satire. Some Historians hold that The Wizard of Oz is a propaganda against the gold standard and in favor of the silver standard (while this is not universally accepted, it does make for some though provoking reading).

To be "mad as a hatter" has historical, as well as literary, meaning

If political theater is not your cup of tea, there is always science fiction - H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are both considered classic writers, with some believing that they were predicting the future of mankind through the guise of fiction. Jules Verne had particular success in this vein - check out 8 Jules Verne Inventions That Came True to see for yourself!

If what you truly want to do is concentrate on the human condition, why not share the stories of those who has suffered as you seek to suffer? You could write non-fiction profiles, or utilize the experiences of many to create a composite character about whom to write. This would satisfy your curiosity about "how the other half lives", satisfy your parents desire to know you are sleeping safely under a roof at night, and allow you to plunge into the depths of another's soul in order to improve upon your character development. For more advice, check out my Tips For Successful Writing, as learned from the University of Rhode Island Department of Writing and Rhetoric. As a Writing student, I am sure you have heard many of them, but it is always good to review and refresh your knowledge!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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