Lately I have been thinking about wanting more. I don’t want much, I just want more. Gosh, did I just inadvertently quote “The Little Mermaid”? Nope, sorry, I just realized that I quoted Barbra Streisand’s ‘Everything’ from the 1976 classic, “A Star is Born” (and boy, she got more than she bargained for in that picture). But this is not to say that The Little Mermaid isn’t filled with yearning either. Yes, she has possessions galore but what she really wanted were some lovely legs with which she could pursue a prince. Anyhow, to go any further into depth about this fairy tale would really get this whole train of thought off the track. But nonetheless, somewhere between Babs and a Disney cartoon is little ole me: wanting, wishing, hoping, and praying for just something along the lines of everything.
I don’t know why I feel that success is something that happens to other people. As if for myself, I will always live well below the vaulted ceilings of greatness. Never once will I feel my fingers brush so much as a structural beam, even if I stood on my tiptoes and stretched my arms nearly out of the socket. It’s right there, I can see it, but I cannot, will not, be able to reach it. But more recently I use the mantra ‘Why not me?’ which has a slightly cynical flair, it suggests that success could be achieved, but it also might not. A lot of that depends on me. What I really want is to have a collection of personal essays bound together in a book that I didn’t fashion myself at Staples. But there are significant, necessary steps before one could publish a book, the first being is to actually write, which can be an awfully pesky obstacle. In truth, before the first of March, when I started this blog, I was a writer who didn’t write much. I was a procrastinator that couldn’t even finish “The Artist’s Way”—a book designed to unlock the creative self. I couldn’t commit out of reluctance and anxiety. For fear that opening up the cavities of memory in order to write and attack the creative block would be akin to opening up a musty trunk in the forgotten attic; there could be some amazing treasures, or there could be a dead body…it’s anyone’s guess. Still, how is it that one can want something so badly, but be as lost as to how to achieve those goals? Perhaps the greatest concern is that the product you figured you would one day unleash into the zeitgeist, and the talent precipitating that magnificent work was actually non-existent, just a figment of an twisted imagination…and the only thing you ever really created was that fantastic lie with which you could only convince yourself.
In amidst of this existential block, my mind continued to sing like a sewing machine, endlessly stitching sentences together. Unfortunately, the fabric of thought always fell flat if ever I tried to replicate these pieces in print. Suddenly the clever pithy dialogue or heart wrenching reflections seemed menial, trite and clichéd. And all I am left with are useless scraps of material—not an actual, cohesive, tangible product; just shreds of bright colours and splashy patterns—these are samples of talent, but are not actual talent. Talent is realized through bravery and fearlessness, and action is everything. From accomplishment comes art, and from that creation, dreams are realized, goals are achieved and summer houses are purchased. As for myself, edging deeper into my thirties, I have not built a terribly sturdy writing platform to reach that elusive ceiling. This leads into the even peskier second point to publishing—after writing, you have to show it to people. I have a small circle of individuals who have read my personal essays, but otherwise, they are filed away. I keep hoping some important looking person in a serious, tailored suit will ring my door bell and say: “Excuse me, but I’m a prolific publisher…do you by any chance have a binder of potentially decent, half written stories on hand?” To which I would reply: “My goodness, I do! Please come in”. A thought had crossed my mind while watching the Australian “X-Factor”. Enough with the signing contest and talent shows, what someone needs to do is develop a competition show for writers—and contestants can read excerpts of their own work. The panel of judges could be Margaret Atwood, Danielle Steel (wouldn’t that be interesting?) and Stephen King for a mature masculine element. They’d get to make delightful puns like: “I’m sorry, but you’re not ‘write’ for this show”, or “You are doing the ‘write’ thing”—the show could be called “Write On” or “Write this Way”. I don’t know, I’m just spit balling ideas here, but let’s be honest, we’re not all singers and dancers, and how else do you get noticed these days?
From years of tabloid reading and E-channel watching, I can easily deduce how one gets to the place fame and fortune: through shameless self-promotion, sheer determination or by stroke of luck. I read about these glamorous women with beautiful husbands and children, careers, money and travel. Oh, how I wish I could be so successful and chic, with a multitude ‘upcoming projects’ and witty anecdotes about my celebrity friends. At this point in my career path, I feel so far behind the eight-ball that I can hardly see the pool table. Having immediately followed my university graduation with three years of travel, I was strapped to temporary working visas which was grossly limited my career aspirations. There have been times in a minimum-wage-work-life when I feel I am an inconsequential ghost, a waitress haunting tables, a phantom in a kitchen, a spook casting a shadow in a shop front, holding a vigil for a ‘career’, as opposed to a ‘job’. Now, I go to work and smile, do my best and receive a paycheque, but I’m not always present, I’m sometimes dreaming as if I were a girl, playing with Barbie dolls, pretending to have control. If my childhood fantasies actually came to fruition, I would be wildly successful by now. The details of my fascinating life would appear crisp news print, my photo in the Who’s Who pages of glossy magazines: my eyes just meeting the camera’s gaze, my freshly styled hair blowing in the breeze as the paparazzi captures me mid stride—an impressive shopping bag in hand, or a thick manuscript clutched to my chest, effortlessly maneuvering through the crowd in striking sky high heels—a goddess amongst mere mortals. Always busy, always popular, always in demand—this snapshot would be a rare, unguarded moment of a graceful, talented woman of whose star has continued to rise. The caption would read: “Alicia Ashcroft, taking a break from her hit talk show/Broadway musical/book tour…”, or “Alicia Ashcroft, fresh from her Oscar win…” or “Even without makeup, Ashcroft has a natural beauty that humbles us with her presence…” If photographers were to snap an actual shot of me the caption would read: “Fresh from being unable to pay off her student loan, Ashcroft looks as though it may never ‘happen for her’”, or “Now over 30, Ashcroft is looking like she’s beginning to wonder what those eight years of education was for, and we are starting to wonder the same”.
Of course, I don’t believe that one should create with the sole purpose of wealth, fame, and cosmetic endorsements. It should be to satiate the hunger to express, celebrate an avenue that has been paved, allowing all of one’s brilliants thoughts and ideas to course through, reaching the delighted masses. If it is appreciated, or relatable to the reader, and if that leads to lecture tours, adaptation to film and television, the occasional flattering snap in a fashion mag, worldwide travel, wealth beyond imagining and a career that allows you to be at home with the adorable babies you and your gorgeous husband can’t stop making…then so be it. I’m willing to do the work, take the risk, because this life is happening right now, and this time is slipping through my fingers, even as I write this down.