Who said that the more you know, the more aware you are of how little you know? No matter who it was dear reader; they are the words of a genius. I come across what I don't know daily, and I am often flabbergasted to realise that I lived up until that moment without that knowledge, whatever that may be. I felt it acutely a few days after I moved last month, when I found myself in Daunt's and picked up one of those slim single editions that Faber published to celebrate the launch of its Modern Classics. The one I picked up was How To Become A Writer by Lorrie Moore.
And I am coming to the point: I did not know who Lorrie Moore was. There, I've said it, I've blown whatever pretence of knowledge of books I may have created in here, and elsewhere. So how is this even possible? I read this wonderful short story (nay hilarious how-to, if you ask me) in minutes, then ran out to get the collection it comes from (Self-Help), as well as a very satisfactory tome, The Collected Stories, this thick, this high, and completely wonderful to rest on your chest as you read in bed. And there I was, wondering how I lived all these years without this wonderfully penetrating prose, without these fantastically acute observations. I nodded and laughed like a hyena throughout How To Become A Writer and frankly thought this was a short story written for me. No, more than that. Lorrie must have had me in mind when she wrote it. It is for Steph and of Steph. I am sure you'll have the exact same experience when you read it.
Decide that you like college life. In your dorm you meet many nice people. Some are smarter than you. And some, you notice, are dumber than you. You will continue, unfortunately, to view the world in exactly these terms for the rest of your life.
You spend too much time slouched and demoralised. Your boyfriend suggests bicycling. Your roommate suggests a new boyfriend.
[...] you have a calling, an urge, a delusion, an unfortunate habit. You have, as your mother would say, fallen in with a bad crowd.
Later on in life you will learn that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and everything that is said of them.
Begin to wonder what you do write about. Or if you have anything to say. Or if there even is such a thing as a thing to say. Limit these thoughts to no more than ten minutes a day; like sit-ups, they can make you thin.
HAHA-HAHA! AND YES.
On and on I could go, and perhaps I should stop my blabbing and copying the whole of it here for you. But no, go out and get it; holding this story, in whichever format you'll buy it in, in your hands will be immensely more satisfying than reading it fleetingly on a screen. I keep How To Become A Writer in my bag now and that's the least I could do. I mean, this story was written for me, so... And to think that I did not know Lorrie Moore until last month. What a philistine...