Patience Paradox

I have a real impulse problem. When I latch onto something in my head, be it a new toy, new gadget, new restaurant, anything new, I need it now. I am capable of waiting, but only if I push the item so far out of my mind that the release date or opening or meeting sneaks up on me, otherwise I am simply paralyzed.

Thus searching for a job triggers all of my impulse problems at once: the concept of a job is so intangible and so unknown, the date is completely hypothetical and in order to be proactive it has to stay on my mind at all times. It is driving me freaking crazy, and I have only been home for two weeks.

I take solace in the fact that a first job is somewhat of a stepping stone, a footnote to what I hope is a career as a writer. I am no longer hemming and hawing and aw-shucks-ing with people when they ask me what I want to do. I want to write, and I want to do it now, and I want to do it exceedingly well.

But of course, I cannot be a writer right now because, well, I don't know shit. I have experienced a fair amount in my 22 years, but I think that still seeing a pediatrician precludes one from writing the great American novel. A writer can have all the talent in the world and still be limited by his or her experiences - I remember trying to write a play as a 16-year-old that basically turned into 20 pages of me and my friends sitting on a stoop eating bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches because that's the only thing I knew.

Of course, great novels can come from people with incredibly limited experiences if they delve into those experiences with great detail. You can grow up in the middle of no where and be William Faulkner. But Faulkner did not write his first novel until he was in his late 20s.

So do I have to wait to be great? I grew up watching so much sports and seeing so many phenoms break into the league at age 20 or 21 or 22 and be dominant. I assume the life of a writer is much less early fireworks and much more slow burn, but then I remember that Bret Easton Ellis was a hit at 21 and feel like a failure again.

What is the virtue in being patient versus being aggressive? Do I harp on these editors and writers I have emailed, bother them until they deign me with a response, or just wait and put my faith in God and the passage of time? Do I wait to have a measurable impact on the world, or grasp at every possibility and drive myself nuts?

All of these feelings stem from today's launch of Grantland.com, the new Bill Simmons/ESPN joint venture that is packed to the brim with mostly young writers. Now obviously, young is a relative term - a lot of these writers are 10 years older than I am. But if they are considered young in the literary world, does that mean I have 10 more years to develop a voice and a following and a style before I'm an old never-was?

Because 10 years is a long time to wait to be a hot young writer.

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