What do I want to write about?

I’ve been on the hunt for editorial positions for about two months now. In that time, I’ve sent out approximately 50 applications, consisting of highly-personalized cover letters, resumes, and even short clips written on request to demonstrate my writing abilities.

This work has required me to refine my professional sense of self by thinking long and hard about what it is that I want to write about, and why. For each and every position I apply for, I try to present a clear picture of who I am, and why my interests and skills make the perfect candidate for whatever job description sits in front of me.

While I am used to the frustration of not hearing back from potential employers, I am not at all used to the newfound feeling of professional, existential confusion that accompanies trying to provide such a clear and convincing picture of oneself over, and over again.

The truth is that I am not 100 percent sure what it is that I want to devote my life to as a writer. Sure, there are topics and beats that interest me more than others. I could even argue, truthfully, that my portfolio reflects a certain penchant for writing about these things. But as the lack of replies to my applications suggest, I’m finding it difficult to persuasively convince anyone that my purpose is well-defined enough to prove I would be a valuable source of content on any single topic.

What is one to do when they are interested in just about everything?

My recent struggle has made me question something about myself which I always tended to view as a strength. Who wants to hire someone who dabbles in the many, but is an expert in not even the few?

What interests me, and what compels me to write, is the overwhelming diversity of stories I’ve come across in my years. I write because it allows me to adventure, to dig, and to see the world through the lens of a perpetual explorer. The career I envision for myself consists of searching far and wide for the most compelling stories I can find, and developing my voice in order to deliver those stories with the empathetic persuasion necessary to make people understand their worth.

But this thesis hardly fits into a cover letter.

The question then, is how to proceed. I can acknowledge that even the most successful authors and journalists held positions that did not satisfy their highest-order professional desires. I’m also not so naive to think that I can begin my career with a position that will satisfy mine. But in the process of trying to land even a foot-in-the-door at a place where I can begin exploring the unique path my writing will take, I’m finding it difficult to present this hopeless romanticism as a positive, valuable quality.

The bigger question, concerning which things I will eventually concentrate my career on, is a difficult one that can only be answered through the work. But the more immediate question is proving just as difficult to answer: who am I, and what do I want to write about?

Daily Reflection 8/24

The single biggest difference I’ve noticed between Oakland and New York is the way people interact on the street.

It’s the strangest thing in the world to me. In a place where people are more physically close to each other than any other city I’ve ever been in, the psychological distance they keep from each other is ironically massive.

They don’t say excuse me. They don’t nod. No comments about the weather. It’s hard to even make eye contact with folks out here. Even when it seems like, to a West Coast kid like me, our eyes are locked directly upon one another, in the same instant I would prepare for an impending social interaction, the people of New York instead focus on maintaining a fixed stare that slides off of your gaze in a way that suggests they were never looking at you in the first place-you just happened to be in their line of sight for a brief moment.

I’m not upset by this as much as interested. It feels a little awkward to me right now, but I suspect when I reach that place of franticness that all New Yorkers seem to live in, I won’t have time for anything but cold stares either.

In the mean time though, I continue to look like the sweaty, naive fool that I am when I take a second to comment to my fellow commuter; “Boy, sure is hot today.”

Daily Reflection 8/20

Time moves at a pace we cannot control.

The last few months brought me some of the most meaningful, the most beautiful, and the most difficult moments I’ve experienced in my young life. I’ve said goodbye to good places and good people, and been introduced to many others. I’ve taken risks at a level which were impossible to imagine not so long ago. I’ve succeeded and failed many times and continued working towards a better understanding of who I want to be.

I experienced the loss of a friend which came so suddenly and shockingly that the entire world stood still, even amidst the frantic chaos of my time since college. Javier Zayas was a part of my life since kindergarten. He was an artist, a skater, an animal lover and a genuine friend to many people in his community. His heart was as big as the life he led, and everyone that was lucky enough to spend time with Jav knew just how infectious his spirit was. Losing someone like Jav will never make sense, no matter how much time passes or what perspectives we grow into. There is a hole in the hearts of many people who will remember Jav for the rest of their lives. To honor his name is to live with the joy and passion for life that he did. I love you brother, and I will miss you very much.

Four years can fly by in the blink of an eye, and a single phone call can halt the passage of time. As I continue to work hard to achieve my goals, I am reminded of the immense privilege of each moment we have here. Life is truly precious, and unremittingly fragile. Nothing should ever become more important than enjoying it with one another.

 

Daily Reflection 5/30

Life takes us in unexpected directions. Emotions can be as transient as the weather. Navigating periods of extreme change, such as is expected of any young person, results in personal growth and humility.

I am weeks away from leaving my college town in pursuit of my next adventure. Over the last few months my life has been a whirlwind of chaos- seeking opportunity, fulfilling obligations, charting courses, and realizing that stability is a luxury I will not be able to afford for the foreseeable future. In the past I’ve written about the importance of balance  in the face of situations like this, but ironically I now realize how much of a divide exists between acknowledging a truth and living it. I try my best every moment of every day to remain centered, focused on the things I desire for myself and those around me. But I have no illusions that achieving such a state of constant clarity is a process of development not so easily reached as writing a few journal entries on the subject.

What I can say for sure at the near-end of this turbulent time is that nothing is as important in this life as constant growth in response to our ever changing environments. I prize adaptation as much as I prize preparedness, and perhaps the gulf between these two ideas isn’t as vast as I once imagined. All we can do is move forward into what’s next with an attitude of appreciation and anticipation. Hope is only naive if we lack the strength to act as we know to be right.

The brightness of our future is a function of the amount of light we allow into our vision.

Daily Reflection 4/22

Its been months since my last DR… I want to say that Ive been busy, that Ive found other outlets, that life has been to complicated to justify devoting time and energy to this contemplative act. But, Im not really sure why I stopped. Sometimes I wonder if I use this medium more when Im feeling accomplished, or in order to feel that way. Its easier to share your successes than your failures, but I think theres more to be gained from the latter. Learning to channel disappointment into lessons learned is an art that separates the pushers from the accepters.

Finding the time for personal writing and reflection is usually a function of my need to process thoughts and procrastinate in a (somewhat) productive manner. Only when Im swamped with pressing work do I feel the urge to take the time to mediate over this keyboard. Something about writing completely subjective, often readerless words helps me to get my creative juices flowing, so to speak. As thoughtless sketching is to a painter, so journaling is to this budding writer. With most of my endeavors I aim for the unreachable goal of perfection, which, though I know is unattainable, pushes me towards the high caliber of quality which Ive come to expect of myself. It also tends to cause me a perpetual dissatisfaction with most of what I produce, even in its most finalized, polished state. But here on this blog, with the entire world not watching, I feel free to rabble on about nothing, or something, with no end in mind. Freedom in black and white.