When I was in college, I became something of an urban legend, not because of anything I did, but because of my friend’s need to fill pages. You seen when you are in a creative writing track you have to take a lot of different kinds of courses that cover types or writing you wouldn’t normally do. At UCF, the school I went to, one of these courses was creative nonfiction. I never took a course on this, which is ironic considering that’s about all I do on this blog, but we are going to ride right past that. However, most of my friends in college did.
In any creative writing course you are agreeing to turn in at least two or three complete pieces. And if you are taking multiple course this turns into quite the workload very quickly. In creative nonfiction one of the key chunks of information you have to draw from is your own life. This ment that I was turning up in workshopped pieces all over school, and since it was a small enough place, I wound up having classes with students that went to a lot of those courses.
That lead to a lot of conversations like this:
“Are you Josh,” and random classmate I’ve never seen before would say.
“Yeah,” I would say.
Yeah,” I would say, starting to get alarmed and reaching for some kind of weapon.
“Did you one time punch a guy in New Orleans?”
“Well he invaded my personal space.”
Okay, some background on that. I really did go to New Orleans and there really was a guy and who singing on the side of the street who got what I will charitably refer to as “handsy” with me. But I never punched him. And certainly not in the face.
Almost all of my friends in college were fiction writers, so when they would write create nonfiction, the emphases was on the creative part. This lead to stories where I got touched way too many times and then punched the guy in the face. It also lead to a lot of unconformable conversions and a little bit of a strange legend surrounding me.
And I learned from highschool that if anyone assumes anything about you, it’s just easier to admit its true, so I would never disagree with what people assumed I did. That was made easier by the fact that all of my friends would run what they were writing by me first before they would submit them to class, so I always knew what to admit to.
The point I’m trying to make, I think, this that there is nothing you can do to control what others think about you, but the one thing you can control is what you admit to and in that you can control the narrative that they are forming inside there one minds.