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.