This is the first in our Because of GHP series, in which GHP alumni try to explain how GHP affected them. If you are interested in submitting your thoughts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Squires was a CommArts major in 2012. On one of her blogs recently, she had this to say about
All these starry-eyed GHP nominees
I just want to hug them and kiss their foreheads and feed them soup and say “It’s okay, honey. Momma understands your feels.”
And then I want to forcibly drag them to Valdosta and plop their butts down on West Lawn and leave them there for four weeks and come back just to hand them Kleenex on Convocation Day.
And then later, she wrote this in encouragement to the 2013 nominees:
My God, I’ve been electrified.
When I got home from GHP and was sifting through my luggage, I saved important pieces of paper in a folder – all of my poetry, my hastily-scrawled speech outlines, our collaborative writing pieces, the menus from Neo-Futurism, my nametag from the last secret Neo-Futurist performance (at one point I stuck my “Sorbet” nametag to a sheet of paper and was about to text a picture of it to Jacob, only to see that he’d just texted me a picture of his “Pineapple” nametag taped to the front of a folder – bless him), the “politically correct” play we wrote in Fairytales, the handouts from SocStud minors, questions I wish I could ask of Eleanor Roosevelt, a letter from my R.A….everything is in there.
Tonight I was searching through for poetry inspiration. I found the list of projects from the SocStud’s Culminating Event, with Jacob and Monica and Al and Abraham’s projects highlighted, and almost cried. I found the playbill from the first GHP concert, the faculty one – Jacob’s and my first date – in the very back and was washed with memories. I found my Exquisite Corpse sessions: gorgeous, gorgeous writing. I found my Gonzo article, covered in dense scribbles of the most breathtaking comments from the “Bless, Press, Address” critique session we did in Rag’s class. (Have any other people so thoughtfully and beautifully studied my writing?) I found letters and articles and the God Hates Figs flyer that Al passed out in Palms.
I found everything.
I always felt like the one bitch that never missed GHP as much as everybody else. I always felt as if, for some reason, GHP didn’t mean as much to me – as if everyone else made better friends, as if everyone else got more out of it, as if it was more freeing, more beautiful, more life-changing for them. I felt as if I’d walked under a street lamp and the light washed over me, but melted from my skin as I passed once again into the shadows. I felt like it didn’t stick.
But now I know GHP changed me, because sorting through this folder reminded me that I love my craft more than I love just about anything.
I spend every second of every day, it seems, telling myself that I’m a sorry excuse for a writer – telling myself I don’t have the words, don’t have the perseverance, don’t have the talent or commitment to call myself a writer. I sold myself into thinking, “Well, at least someday I’ll be able to write half-decent speeches. At least I have a good vocabulary. Even if I’m never a writer, even if I’ll never publish fiction like I thought I was born to do, even if I’m no good, I can use what I have.”
But – four months later – GHP has reminded me:
Someone thought I was worth it.
Someone thought I was good enough.
Someone saw something glowing in my words. And they brought me to GHP, and GHP embraced me. With humor, with passion, with love, GHP opened its arms to me.
And I remember now. I remember what I’d lost – that sense of self, that stiffness in my spine, that belief and understanding that words are what I have and the ones I have are enough. That deep-seated, intrinsic trust that words are what I was given, and in turn, I must give them back to the world.
And this is all to say that if any of you GHP hopefuls are reading this, just know:
I wish you luck. I wish you luck like a kiss blown on the breeze. I know there is something glowing in you, too, and I want you to find it and I want you to care for it and I never, ever want you to forget it.
I want you to go to GHP and pour all of yourself into that passion and joy – into your craft – and I want you to grow. I want you to give yourself up to that love and trust that you are good enough, you are glowing, and my loves, this is what you were born to do.