Archive for November, 2009

Family of writers?

November 29, 2009

I have always believed that I was going to be a writer.  Is this, as my mother and grandmother think, because it runs in my blood?  My great-grandfather was a fantastic poet, my grandmother was unpracticed talent; my mother and her two brothers are witty and eloquent, but no one was “a writer”, all were/ are just well-written.  My grandmother has always enjoyed the idea that I would take this raw family talent gene somewhere.  Somewhere further than the rest of them had gone with it.  It’s like the elite, privileged version of the first one in the family to go to college.  We all are well-educated: my grandmother got a scholarship to Duke University at a time when women only made up 30 per cent or so of college attendees.  My mother went to a progressive liberal arts college, which was so radical it closed down, but she is one of the most well-read people I know and more educated than the majority of people.  I’m pretty sure she will always know more than I know, and I have my masters degree.  I am a high school English teacher, but I am not of the school that formal schooling is the only way to become educated.  I am of the school that reading is key.  And seeing the world.  But in the world of education today, it seems to be less and less about what you know or have learned, and more about what honors or wins you have racked up on your student resume.  But my thoughts on public and private schooling are a very long rant for a totally separate blog, though I’m sure, as teaching is such an integral part of my life, that they will pop up here now and then.

I am struggling now with the balance of my complete and utter faith that I am a writer – whether anyone ever reads it, whether anything is ever published – it is a religious experience for me.  I transcend this plane through words, simile, metaphor.   And sometimes, like church for others, I resent it – I would rather spend my Sunday morning drinking coffee and watching TV than sitting blankly with pen and paper or keys to type.  But my stubborn lethargy does not change that knowledge, that utter faith.  It is who I am, but how will I become who I am?

And there is the other plate on this balance – fear.  Why would I fear what I have complete faith in?  I am frozen within, or maybe without, a bubble of expectations.  I know that a major flaw of mine is looking too much at the final product rather than the process.  I am anxious about finishing – both in completeness and detail, and so I become stunted and do not write anything.  I know, I know that everyone writes “shitty first drafts” (thank you, Anne Lamott) and that to be a writer, all you have to do is write, even if most of it is terrible, but I am stuck.  I have spent too many years as an editor/grader with kids’ analytical writing?  Correcting rather than creating?  Or maybe I am too impatient – I want that satisfaction of having a finished thing that I am proud of, and I have yet to take the time to make one.

And that is why I am doing this blog.  I must confess that I have been anti-blog for some time: too much of a overexposed flood of opinion and word.  Too much, too many.  And because of that quantity, I am guessing no one will ever find my little nest.  And this will be my alone place (yet, with the possibility, er, risk of someone being able to see my expose (I can’t figure out how to put the accent over that – it is expose-ay)) to talk about MY writing process, to get me talking to me about it every day.  But because it says Writing at the top of this page, I cannot veer off about my pay-the-bills waitress job, or teaching, or how teachers still need a restaurant job to pay the bills, including those expensive college loans that were needed to become a teacher, or my laundry, or relationships.  I can talk about reading and writing.  And I will.