Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Personal Statement #2

Anyone seriously thinking about applying to law school and wondering what to write their personal statement about would be best advised not to take this as a sucessful model. At least five of the sentences, and perhaps the entire conceit of the essay, is inappropriate for a law school admissions committee to believe I had the right attitude to succeed in law school.

You do not know how far I have traveled to get nowhere. You do not know how close I have been to the bottom. I can assure you, it’s been a harrowing journey. This life, so cruel, so pressurized, leaves me with little energy left to fit within its walls. I make one final effort to do something progressive, positive for my social development. When I was a young child and my parents wanted me to be a doctor they told me I would have to go to school until I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight, roughly twenty further years of education from that point. I could not accept it. I hated school. I wanted to drop out when I was 16.

Then I went to boarding school, a rather monumental change which succeeded in making me feel inadequate in comparison to my peers. However, there I learned the love of free expression—creating works of art from words. One of the greatest achievements in my life—the original production of a one-act play my senior year in high school, with assistance and collaboration from some ten other students—ended in a stalemate. It played for one night, to unanimous student praise, and was cancelled for its remaining two nights. It was inappropriate, according to director of the theater. He claimed one of the actors had given a mocking portrayal of a dean of students too closely approaching a real life figure. The same real life figure whom I had to meet with to discuss the appropriateness of the play for a student audience told me he had no problems with it, but felt it could be stronger as a work of art.

In college I designed my own major—the study of writing as it relates to politics. A vague definition, I know, but not only did my colloquium analyze the depiction of political rebellion in the history of literature, it attempted to demarcate the boundaries that writers must heed in order not to risk ostracism from the herd. That is, the deportment of agreeable political concepts. Earlier totalitarian leaders may have been able to manipulate the minds of their masses, but after totalitarianism, starting in the 1950’s and 60’s, logic and reason began to play a larger role. As commerce has exploded, confusion has reigned, and disasters at the national and natural level continue unabated.

After college I worked for my father’s homebuilding company to make ends meet while I worked on my first novel. I finished it in August 2007, after nearly two years of composition. It is impossible to sell. I send it to literary agents and they all reply, “Sorry, that’s not for me.” I grew frustrated and dived headlong into my second novel, which is still a work in progress, though significant in its own right at this point. I doubt I will be able to sell this book as well due to the unsavory nature of a few of its scenes.

What kind of writing does the publishing industry want? I’m not prepared to answer that question. I will say, however, that Oprah Winfrey has a better idea of the answer than I do. I have grown tired with trying to fit into an industry that has no place for me. I look elsewhere. I see the LSAT. I like the way the questions look. I decide if that’s what it takes to get into law school, doing well on this test, which relies heavily on common sense, then I could do that. I couldn’t work as part of an IT Department, but I could go back to school for something that wasn’t totally unrelated to the initial reason I went to school.

So here I am. A writer, an unpublished writer with dreams of literary fame, seeking a legal education in order to support that previous goal. There is no other reason for me to live, at this point, and my parents have shown that they are fed up with my own professed feelings of inadequacy. I have made terrible decisions, and I am paying for them now. Being published on a commercial scale is the only thing that could make me happy anymore. I do not think practicing law is going to make me happy, but I feel the need to put myself into a different world, because this one I’m in now is just so harsh, so cold, so overfilled to capacity with more qualified individuals, that I do not know where to turn. I used to think I was smart. Well, smart is a highly relative term, I suppose. I wish I had invented something, or spoke French more fluently, or had taken Spanish in high school so I could have a “bi-lingual required” job here in Los Angeles, or done something of great magnitude to impress upon you. The one act was probably my most impressive public display—the other handful of readings I have done by myself do not compare to the vision that was delivered onto that stage, and into the minds of the 250 students regarding it. Oh, for a chance to begin afresh. Oh, for a chance to establish myself once again, rather than slide down this slippery, dirty, clotted tube to destitution. In this world (maybe it’s in this town) all that seems to matter is who you know and where you can get in, and I don’t know anyone and I can’t get in anywhere. I wanted a job with Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Disney, but there was no way to get through to them, no way to convince them to take on another writer. I wasn’t qualified enough for a more specialized career. I’m seeking that qualification. I want to be a writer and a lawyer. Other people have done it. So can I. I hope that you’ll help me to realize this dream.

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