I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. And once I reached university, I became acutely aware not only of my lack of writing prowess, but also of how unread I was. At 16, I had not read The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird, or anything by Maya Angelou. Not to say that those are symbols of a well-read adolescent, but rather, that they often came up in “literary” conversations, to which I had nothing of value to contribute.
Growing up, I read a lot. But in my formative preteen years, no one told me I should seek out more than the few YA fiction series that I gravitated towards. My interest in fiction waned and I turned to non-fiction. Left alone to my own devices, I sought out books on architecture and home design, because those were what interested me. I brought home books with titles like Prefab Today and Japanese Small Homes that were full of floor plans. I would sketch them in my little notebook and then draw out what I imagined they would look like in 3-D. I owe much of my visual/spatial abilities to this exercise.
Now, almost a decade later, maternity leave has given me the gift of being able to read more. And to write more. I am enriched by what others have learned and have captured in words. I, in turn, also have the time and space to attempt to do the same. Or at least attempt to. I may never be as eloquent or complex as some of my friends who have already honed their craft for years and years, but what I have learned thus far from reading Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is that writing, like any art form, is a craft that requires practice. I’m sure that I will pen a significant amount of truly atrocious writing (the majority of it unfinished), and only rarely will I write something I feel moderately comfortable sharing, but alas, this is a necessary part of the process.
And so I return to where I started. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but perhaps with some trial and error, and through studying and writing with others, I’ll begin to see myself in a new light.