I am a writer. I may not be a very good one, but I am one nonetheless. My love affair with writing began when I was quite young. I believe it actually started because I am a reader. I don’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t read. I’ve just always known. Okay, so that isn’t true, but from my perspective, I’ve just always known how to read. Mom says I taught myself to read at the age of 3. I don’t remember that. I used to find that kind of hard to believe, but since my own son started to teach himself to read at age 3, now I see how true it actually is. So anyway… I’ve always loved to read and was constantly challenging myself to read more difficult, yet interesting, books. How many other first graders do you know that gets to read chapter books to the class rather than the teacher? (I read them a story about The Littles).
In the third grade we were taught the art of essay writing. Do you remember all the strict rules you had to follow back then? A proper essay had an introductory paragraph, stating the objective in the first sentence. A proper essay had three main points, and each paragraph supported one point. Each paragraph was indented, and started with a Main Sentence, followed by three to four supporting sentences. The final paragraph was a closing paragraph, which restated the Main Topic of the essay.
So that year we were learning to write the Proper Essay, and were given the assignment to write about an object that is important to us. I chose a locket that contained a picture of my father. This wasn’t just any picture, either. It was one of his “official” military pictures. You know how you always see the photos of military men and women in their dress uniforms sitting in front of an American flag? Well, that was the picture of my dad: a very handsome, young father in his Air Force dress blues with an American flag and the Air Force flag for a background. It meant a lot to me at the time to have this locket with this picture because my parents were divorced and while visits with my father were regular, they weren’t often enough for me. Every little girl wants her daddy, right? I was at that young, innocent age where I thought Daddy was the best and the strongest and Mommy was the smartest, most beautiful woman in the world. I just knew that they couldn’t be married (believe me, I’m the only one of us kids who remember what it was like when they were married. It was much better for them to be divorced… much better for all of us). So I often wore this locket so I could have my dad close to me.
I did very well on that essay. A few of us were asked to attend a school board meeting and read our essays as a matter of interest for the board members, just to see what we were up to in the third grade, I guess. Such an honor! I remember being all dressed up and a little nervous. Two other kids read their essays and presented their valuble items to the board members. Then it was my turn.
I stood up. All these grown ups were sitting at a long table, looking at me. My mom, my teacher (Mrs. Wainer… I sure loved her!), and the other two students with their families were standing off to the side, against a wall. I took a deep breath, then loudly (for me) and clearly read my essay. I didn’t have my necklace in a containter of any sort, like the other kids had, and I held the chain and locket in the palm of my hand, wrapped tightly in my fist. At the end of my essay, I wanted to show them the locket, so I held up my fist and let the locket and most of the chain drop from my hand. The board members chuckled, and I was a bit embarrassed.
I enjoyed the attention, however. I enjoyed working on the assignment. From that day on, I knew I was going to be a writer. I would start writing stories, but never finished anything because they were turning into The Story of Sariah, But Let’s Just Change the Names To Make It Seem Like Fiction. I didn’t want that. I wanted to come up with a great story from my own imagination!
While in high school, I started taking the journalism classes. I did this mainly to work on the yearbook, but also to see if I liked writing for the school paper. In those three years I learned that I loved being an editor, I hated interviewing people for a straight news story, and I loved writing feature articles. Feature articles can be about anything and pretty much take on any tone. It is not a straight news story, which tells just the facts, ma’am.
My sophomore year was the year I started in journalism. My first big assignment for a feature article came up in January. I wrote about “The Winter Blahs” with a how-to list of ways to know you had the Winter Blahs and then a list of how to get out of the Winter Blahs. I tried to be a bit humourous. I was so nervous when that paper came out! Everyone in my homeroom would read the paper at the same time. I was kind of half-reading the paper myself, and hoping that either people would enjoy my piece, or if it totally sucked, that they wouldn’t notice my name on the byline.
My classmates started to laugh here and there. Several people looked at me. “Wow! You wrote that? That was so awesome!” they would say to me. All day long, classmates stopped me in the hall, “That Winter Blahs thing was so funny!” Even the girl who was valedictorian when we graduated pulled me aside to say, “Your article in the paper was so great! And thanks for the reminder in there about starting on advanced math project that’s due next month. That was funny.”
I was on cloud 9, and didn’t want to come down. I also decided that if I were to become a writer, I would love love love to be a columnist for a paper or a magazine. Kind of a Dave Barry, but I know I’m not half as funny. I just want to be interesting. I also kept trying my hand at fiction and poetry (poetry is a losing battle, hoewever).
I still don’t think of myself as a great writer, but it is something I have always enjoyed doing. I tried to take a Creative Writing course in high school, but not enough of us signed up, so they cancelled the class. I struggled so much trying to keep up in my music courses in college that I didn’t feel I had the time to pursue writing. I gave up all of my extra interests in college so I could focus on music.
I started writing on this blog because I love to write. And I love to hear the comments people leave me (unless you’re telling me I suck. I don’t really want to hear that. Heh.). I love reading what you all have to say, because it often gives me ideas, too. And I can steal some of your experiences for the book I’m writing.
Oops, the cat’s out of the bag on that one. 😉