This past week was my school’s Thanksgiving Break and while I promised myself I would use the extra days to read ahead on my Biology and History notes, I spent some of those days reading short stories. Late one day, I stumbled across a Huffington Post article titled These Classic Stories Are So Short, You Have No Excuse Not To Read Them and found myself scrolling through the .pdf file of Lorrie Moore’s How To Become a Writer.
How To Become a Writer tells of Francie’s journey through her life, switching from a child psychology major to creative writing, dealing with others’ criticisms that even though her writing is “smooth and energetic”, it lacks plot. The story ends with Francie’s date asking her if writers become discouraged and her reply: “Sometimes they do and sometimes they do … it’s a lot like having polio”.
I love this story so much because I find it ironic that the Francie didn’t even started out hoping to become a writer, it just sort of ended up that way. Another thing I found that was interesting was that throughout the whole story, it doesn’t feel like Francie is the speaker. Yes, she is the main character but I often find myself thinking that the speaker is not Francie, but someone who may be speaking to her directly. Right from the beginning, the speaker tells the reader/Francie to write a haiku and “show it to your mom … [who] has a son in Vietnam and a husband who may be having an affair”. The situation doesn’t seem to apply to every reader, but this could apply to Francie because we later find out that Francie’s parents will have a divorce and her brother comes back from Cambodia with only half a thigh. Despite the confusion I felt at first on who the speaker is, I think Moore’s usage of the second person makes the story stand out to memory because I feel that by using the second person, the speaker is successful in manipulating Francie’s character to tell readers that “Hey, you don’t have to have it all planned out, look at me, my career just happened because it happened.”