And I fear I am not very good at it. I fear all the time others will judge my grammar due to the fact that I teach high school language arts. I fear that my spelling or diction will not be on point for the critics. And then I become paralyzed. I freeze and stop doing what I have always wanted to do every since I was a child: writing. I allow all that anxiety and fear to overcome me and I DON’T. It is awful.
I spend all day with students telling them to step out on a limb, to try new things, to risk it all because “they are able”. I, then, come home and ignore all the best advice out there. I think there is no way I could ever be good enough. But there is a way. It is the only way. The best part is we get to choose, it is not forced upon us. I’ll come back to that.
I stepped off the track of writing when I was a senior in high school and moved to NOVA. The guidance counselor at the school told me that journalism was the way to go and that creative writing would be a waste of my time (I now work with the same teacher who , was teaching that course lo those many long years ago). So I succumbed to her suggestion and took a journalism 1 class as a senior in high school. I can’t tell you I hated the class. It was fun there were people I made friends with and I was given an opportunity to write a feature in the 4th quarter. But I wasn’t interested in writing any more. I soon fell in love with Chaucer (this goes along with my life long love of all things Shakespeare and Tolkien). I was then off on an adventure of a similar but very different nature.
When I was a child I grew up around people who embraced technology wholeheartedly. It was never something to be shunned or afraid of. I remember my dad bringing home our first desktop PC. I was 12 or 13 (in 7th grade at the time) he was taking some Army classes at Ft. Leavenworth and this was better than a typewriter. I think we may have been the only people on the block with a computer (but maybe that is my child’s mind). I remember being one of the only people on my first college campus to have a word processor (those of you who are old enough remember but those who aren’t: they were like laptops but they weren’t, they had 1 inch screens and you had to save your work to a 5 inch floppy disk). I typed so many papers on that thing! It was in my mom’s basement as recently as a few years ago. My kids have since played with it.
I have been surrounded by technology so much of my life. The biggest thing I remember though is the virtual academic discussions we had when I was in undergrad at GMU in Fairfax, VA. This was where my writing could actually happen and I would not feel the fear of being judged for my ability. I felt that in my passion for the content I was comfortable enough to write and write often. I graduated and didn’t so anything with my BA in English until 2006 when I switched careers. Shortly after I became a teacher I began pursuing my masters degree. This course was a shift in pedagogy for me. I learned to be aware of the students. I learned that I, as a perpetual student, also needed to be aware of my needs. The other amazing thing this course taught me was that my writing is worth something: I am a good writer & have good ideas worth discussing.
I have started to work here and there to write more and more. My emotional side loves writing poetry but I find it easier to write prose. I know poetry can be easy and fun but I am still afraid of certain judgement in that area. I feel comfortable with the “journaling” type writing I do. I feel if I find that one or two people read my work and like it then I am “doing a good job”. Unfortunately, my writers worth still hinges of what others think. If it didn’t I wouldn’t put it out on a public website ;).
So I said I would come back to that one thing…being good enough is all in your state of mind. It is all in how you view yourself. As a writer you could allow the grammar police to pinch every screed you pen. That one criticism would be enough to stop you from every writing again. I know for a long time it kept me from posting things, even of the medias. Then through slow and fairly constant validation I was able to overcome their criticisms and become my own writer.
Nowadays, when I tell me students what I enjoy these things range from cooking and hanging out with my family to photography and writing. I want to be a writer. I want to write. Do I desire to be Anne McCaffrey, sometimes, in my childhood imaginings of what I could have been but not usually. I am pretty satisfied with being a high school teacher and encouraging students to do what they want and educate themselves. And while I really enjoy writing I don’t think I could write the sort of work I love to read. Am I ok with that? Yes, absolutely! I am satisfied with what I write it brings me joy. And as selfish as that sounds, I’m ok with that. But I am still afraid, sometimes.