I’ve been a writer all of my life.
For 36 years, I got paid to write, but I was a writer long before my byline appeared in the La Crosse Tribune.
I’ve never understood people who struggled to write an email or put thoughts on paper. For me, that’s almost like breathing. Often, when I’m in a situation that I wish I could get out of, I imagine myself rewriting the scene. No, I’m not in a long line at the grocery — I am at a fancy gala in New York City. No, I’m not trying to weed the garden in 100 degree weather — I’m wandering the botanical garden in Brooklyn. (Something I’ve never done but always intended to do.)
I was never going to be anything but a writer. I don’t have the patience or fortitude to teach. I was never quiet enough or obedient enough to be a secretary. I wasn’t smart enough to be a scientist and accounting was never going to be an option.
I remember taking a test which measures brains and certain academic skills — probably the SATS. I got a 47 i n science, a 43 in math and 98 percent in reading and vocabulary skills. At the top of the test it read, “You should be a writer.”
I had already made that informed decision in fifth grade and nothing anyone said after that could dissuade me. A well-intentioned but very annoying assistant principal at my high school tried to force me to take the free secretarial training offered at the community college.
“You parents would want you to do this” she insisted.
“No,” I said with my best withering stare (even at 17 I had a very good withering stare). “They know I’m better than that.”
To all you excellent secretaries, I apologize. I just didn’t have the temperament.
To all you skilled financial gurus and scientists, I applaud you. The world needs more of your kind.
To all of you plumbers, electricians and carpenters, I wish I had your skills or at least friends with your skills.
As for me, I’m content to wield words. They’re the most powerful tool in my tool belt and I don’t even have to plug them in.