It would be nice to say that I have been writing since the first day that I could hold a pencil. It would be even nicer to say that words just pour out of me on demand. And, of course, neither statement would be true.
I have read other blogs and the writing is so much more evolved that what I do. It’s really intimidating to read blogs written by college graduates and lawyers and editors and the ideas and beliefs that they abide by. I’m a country girl from the foothills of the Adirondacks — when I graduated from high school, college was for the well off kids, not so much my lower middle class group. Not that I’m having a pity party — I like my life just fine, in spite of the screaming lefts and rights it’s taken with me in tow.
When I was in high school, one of my classes was a creative writing and public speaking class. The teacher was a young woman, maybe all of 25 or 26 years old. Having always been a ravenous reader, I thought that to be a good writer, you had to write stories like the books that I had read. I would pattern my stories and articles after what I believed constituted good writing, parroting the writing styles of other authors. I had all of the grammar and punctuation correct, wrote everything very neatly (no computers back then!!) but still couldn’t seem to pull the grades that I thought I should be getting. I would feedback from the teacher “too trite”, “too dry”, “lacks animation”, “no imagination” — I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong for the life of me.
Then we were assigned a story that we were to write in outline form and speak in front of the class. We were to take questions and answer them as well as we could. I must have been channeling Stephen King, because this was 1970 or so, and he hadn’t hit it big yet. My recital would be about vampires.
And I aced it. I talked about vampires and sunlight and silver bullets and coffins and the earth from their graves. Elaborated on holy water and non-reflections in a mirror and garlic. Still using my outline, I embellished and enhanced and shot the bull in general. Being more than three decades ago, I don’t remember everything I said but I remember that it kind of took on a life of it’s own and instead of a stiff, dry report, it turned into a story, complete with the rambling that I still do today when I write. Imagine my surprise when I finally got the A that I wanted! Apparently what I was doing wrong was not writing in my own voice. Once I started writing what my head was saying instead of emulating other writers, everything fell into place.
Long story short (something I’m not really able to do very well) I look at what I do as story telling that I write down on my computer. I don’t have any deep and abstract thoughts to impart to others, just stuff that happens in my life. If that makes me a writer, then I’m a writer!!
For more thoughts on writing, check out Sunday Scribblings