I was one of those students who did well in high school writing assignments by writing to expectations. I’d been turned off by grammar and usage mechanics by an overly prescriptive teacher and came to prefer learning through sentence combining exercises and looking at the overall structure of good writing. I read widely and obsessively then and I think that I was unconsciously emulating the structure of the writers I admired.
When I went to University, I was shocked to find out that my writing wasn’t up to my instructors’ expectations. For the first time, my papers were covered in red ink and it scared the hell out of me. I responded by taking every writing course I could for the rest of my time there. The first writing book that really helped me to improve was Peter Elbow’s Writing With Power. His methods helped me to break myself of my habit of trying to write a paper from start to finish in one sitting. I was also able to write prose creatively for the first time.
By the end, I felt like a competent writer and sometimes even a good writer. I dabbled in writing, mostly for a (now defunct) feminist newspaper and brought my skills to the lousy administrative jobs I landed. My friends and I had moved on from academic writing and were looking to books like Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones for guidance. We spent an embarrassingly large amount of our time doing writing exercises in cafés. Luckily, only my friend Julian was confident enough to read his work at open mike nights. I think he sticks to physics these days.
Over the years, I continued to take some writing courses, mostly technical writing, but with some creative non-fiction as well. Eventually, though, I stopped doing much personal writing. Instead, I got bogged down in the corporate miasma of business writing. I’m out of the corporate world now and I’m hoping it’s for good.
This blog is, in part, a way to reignite my writing process and to rebuild my skills. It’s also a way to engage with ideas and events that interest me, of course. And an opportunity to explore photography a little more.
I hope it becomes a way of engaging with you, too.
Stay tuned for a bonus post Friday evening. Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef are compiling a holiday meal recipe bank and have a great giveaway to go along with it. I’ll be posting my contribution and not just because I’m hoping to win the KitchenAid. I think having a gluten-free holiday recipe resource to share with family and friends will help a lot of people, including my partner. Be sure to check out their blog post for all the recipes.
8 thoughts on “Why I’m here”
Excellent post! I think you are a very good writer. I’d like to be a better writer myself, and am glad to be reminded that it is a skill which can be developed and improved.
On the topic of gluten-free holiday cooking … I ran across this article: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/recipe-roundup/nougat-to-whoopie-pies-20-glutenfree-treats-for-the-holidays-132593
Thanks for the link. I feel that those peppermint patties are calling for me to make them.
Isn’t it interesting how we approach writing in different stages of our life? I am so thankful that I had a grammar-Nazi for a teacher in grade school, because we never went back to basics later on!
In high school it was all about free-form, creative writing, surprise topics and writing in one breath (you had to, in 45 minutes:). This was in Serbia, though.
University – quite a different story. We all flunked our first essay in English, trying to apply the loose rules we were taught in Serbian. Ha!
I fight between the languages now. I am very literate in Serbian, and I have degree in English, but the languages differ in a lot of ways.
Just like you, I started my blog to become a better writer and to see if I can convey my messages in English as successfully as in Serbian.
And photography? Yes, definitely! I am attending a class at a local community college and learning a lot. I can see it becoming another obsession:)
Sorry for the rant, and thank you for your kind comment on my site:)
Thanks so much for your comments, Lana. It must be interesting to think, in both Serbian and English, about how to write something. I imagine that some things are better expressed in one or the other.
I love having the opportunity to work on my writing here and talk to others about it. I’m also going to take a photography course at a local art school in the new year and am looking forward to that.
I like reading your posts. I started writing a blog so my brain won’t forget how to write beyond 140 characters!
Thanks so much for your kind words, Ker-Yng! I know what you mean about the 140 character barrier – so much communication happens via Twitter, Facebook and short emails. I feel that even my longer posts here are ridiculously short compared to the feature-length articles I used to write.