The point of this essay is for you tolearn about me. However, two typed, double-spaced pages is quite aconfinement. I know what you’re thinking, Who is Dana? Anddon’t worry, I’m not offended because I know there are manywho have no idea who I am either. But I want to change that; I want tobe a successful writer like my idol, David Sedaris. And now I reallyknow what you’re thinking: If she’s a writer then why doesshe start sentences with words like ‘and’ and‘but?’ That’s not very professional. Here’s theanswer: I’ve ignored everything my English teachers ever taught meabout how to write. I think writing comes from within; it should be raw,unpolished and touch upon topics that others are too shy to talk about.An event in my life that has particular meaning to me is when Idiscovered who I was - a writer.
As a writer who clearly favorsthe genre of nonfiction, my only material is me and my experiences. Tobe honest, I don’t understand writing fiction: why createsomething new when the world around us is so fascinating (andhilarious)? In short, I like to write for shock value. Last summer I wasaccepted to a writing program based at University College London alongwith 27 other girls from all over the United States (and Guam, which,sadly, is the land of no squirrels, according to my source). While theother girls wrote beautiful poetry and fiction, I wrote about how myfriend, Marissa, once told me how she thought it would be funny if theonly blind kid in our school joined the track team. I wrote about how Ihate ordering at Starbucks because I once ordered a “taichi” latte instead of a “chai tea” latte; basically, Iordered a beverage that is an ancient form of martial arts.
I’m not shy at all. I read the piece I wrote in London at theprogram’s open-mic night and the Starbucks story at a fundraiserfor our creative writing club, which I’m fortunate enough to bepresident of this year. I get a natural high from reading my work aloud,performing it in front of a bunch of people. The sound of their gasps ofshock that ultimately transform into laughter makes me feelalive.
I’m a natural performer. When I was younger, Iperformed in dance recitals (seriously, I can tap dance like it’snobody’s business), piano recitals, and various musicals andplays. However, when I took a drama class as a sophomore, I found that Ihad more fun writing the scripts than actually performing them. Thenonce I started taking creative writing classes, I knew that writing wasmy calling.
Basically, I enjoy being the center of attention andtalking to as many people as I can. Whether it’s leading adiscussion in class or being Mrs. Frank in our production of “TheDiary of Anne Frank” (I will admit it’s not exactly thefunniest play), I like observing and interacting with people because,whether they like it or not, they’ll ultimately become materialfor me.
Other fun facts about me (in addition to being a comedicessayist): I’m the fashion columnist for my school’snewspaper, a flaming liberal, a recovering bulimic, and a seamstress(sewing is my secret talent, don’t tell anybody). I know everysingle lyric to the Broadway show “Rent,” I have an intensefear of horses, and I am a lover of life - on most days. I accept thefact that life is not all cotton candy, puppies and rainbows. I indulgein a good cry now and then. I’ve had my share of adversity, but Itry to put it behind me and look to the future, especially since I knowmy future is going to be exciting. You know how I know? I know because Ihave the most wonderful relationships, which is the perk of being ableto talk to anyone.
Many people have impacted my life, and I hopeI have impacted theirs, too. If my craft can make someone laugh for aminute or two, then I feel satisfied. After someone reads my work andgiggles or snickers or chuckles, I feel a great sense of pride. Laughteris the key to a long, fulfilling life. I know my life is going to befilled to the brim because I’m a force of nature. At least,that’s what my therapist tells me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the January 2006 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.