Is Writing Still a Gift?

Photo by Lisa Fotios

When I was coming up, we treated writing like a special gift, and those who could write well felt like they had superpowers. Or at least I did.

In elementary school, I was a terrible student. I got straight F’s, and the source of my lousy grades was math. I failed the sixth grade twice and almost failed the seventh grade. 

Correction: I did fail the seventh grade, but someone had mercy on me, and I passed on to the eighth grade. I cannot say for sure today how it happened. Only I am glad it did.

By the time I was in eighth grade, I was seeing a special ed teacher. Every day he would come into our class, they would announce the special ed teacher was here, and the four, five, or six of us would stand and leave with him. 

If that weren’t degrading enough, the work we did in that small room was fit for a first grader. Two plus two and four plus four. It was frustrating because the math I needed help with was the eighth-grade stuff.

I knew that one plus one was two. I didn’t know how it applied to the more advanced math in the other room. Still, they would give us these long worksheets with these kindergarten math problems, tons of them all down the paper. Some days, they would give us candy. 

It was humiliating, and I would go home and vent my rage in my diary. I would write about how it felt to be singled out in front of the entire class and for the teacher to utter the words, “The special ed teacher is here,” which I thought was unnecessary. The lack of discretion seemed to me a lack of care for our feelings as students. I felt stupid and if that’s how I felt, I am sure the other kids felt it, too.

And then something happened.

This same teacher discovered I knew how to write. Suddenly, everything turned around. I cannot even say for sure how it happened. I still did not understand the math, but the more I wrote, the better my grades got. By the time the school year ended, I had an armful of academic awards and was graduating with honors.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Writing got me out of the eighth grade and into honors classes in High School. (Even honors math.)

Writing got me into College while still in High School. I attended Robert Morris College in my Junior year for early credit. I would go to High School in the daytime and then take the green line downtown for my college course in the evenings. It was dark when I got home every day.

Writing got me into AP Literature, graduating High School with honors, tenth in my class.

Photo by Thirdman

The Point of it All

For writers like me, writing isn’t something we dreamed up on a whim, but is an intimate part of our lives. It is something we can trace as ever-present. For us, writing is a deeply rooted passion that played a major role in developing who we are.

My concern now is writing isn’t taken as seriously as other gifts. Do we even consider it a gift? Indeed, one can learn to write through education, training, and coaching, but is it still a gift

Are there still people who are natural wordsmiths? People, who go the extra mile to string words together into comprehension? People, who devour books like a man starving? And is writing still opening doors for them? As it did for me?

Do we still consider writing a gift, or is everyone a writer?

Mark ‘Even Salt Looks Like Sugar’ as ‘to read’ on Goodreads!

Hey guys!

I am releasing a short novel (also known as a novella) this fall. It is a special project I hope to eventually offer for free to you, my loyal readers! Right now it is only 99cents on Amazon and will not go up. Proceeds from the eBook will help to fund my next poetry contest.

Today, I am asking if you could mark the book as ‘to read’ on Goodreads so that others can learn about this new, exciting read. When you mark a book as to read it shows up on your timeline as a book added and works similar to Facebook whereas your Goodreads friends will be able to see the book you added. Every time you add a book, comment on a review to a book, review a book, or update your progress on a book it shows up at the top of your page and others can see it! It’s a FREE way that you can support your Indie Author friends, like me, without spending money. Thanks so much!

CLICK HERE TO MARK

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar as “to read” on Goodreads

CLICK HERE to PRE-ORDER

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar at just 99cents.

 

She was not a poet

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No one told her she was supposed to taste the lyrics first
That her brain was supposed to decipher the intent of melody
before it escaped her mouth
That her taste buds were supposed to burst forth
before she spit them out
She had no aspiration that we should admire
Never attended a poet’s university
Or danced between the poetic techniques they said would enhance the skill
Did not feel the irony of brilliantly untalented brush upon her skin
Did not notice the personification walk away with simile and metaphor
Did not know what all these terms were for
For
She was not
A
Poet.
Did not understand Dickinson’s Train
Why it lapped the miles,
And licked the valleys up,
And stopped to feed itself at tanks
Or why frost stood still and stopped the sound of feet
No one warned her that imagination was supposed to pass on information
about the sweet, sour, salty and bitter substances of alliterations
and internal rhyme schemes
but she fell head first in love with the way the words moved around in her mouth
with the way her emotions tickled against the backdrop of her heart
with the filled something that racked against the torn cells of her tongue
with the calm that sprayed peace into the air
with the poetry that took her there
so she sang
sang poetry with all of the ignorance stomping around in her stomach
but she sang
did not care about its government name
did not worry about its image
did not care that her words were not professional enough
for she
was not
a
poet…

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Anais Nin

My Writer’s Quote Wednesday author of choice for today is Anais Nin, her words speak truth:

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I don’t have much to add here; the quote pretty much speaks for itself. What are words without a voice? Let who you are be the inspiration to put pen to paper. What is it that you want to say? If your an author it is not something that just sprung upon you, it is something that’s already inside of you. So let the inherent talent speak.

About The Author:

Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939–1947

Anaïs Nin was an author born to Cuban parents in France, where she was also raised. She spent some time in Spain and Cuba but lived most of her life in the United States where she became an established author.

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And that’s it for this week’s episode of Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Don’t forget to check it out, you know what to do ; )

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The Brilliantly Untalented

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 I’ve had this book for awhile;  loaned to me by another  sister. I never completely finished reading it, and as I scrolled my library for a neat snack, it wasn’t too high on my priority list. But as I now found myself flipping through pages, Chapter 10 caught my attention:

 

“Writer’s are people who tolerate a high level of anxiety. We have a talent for holding up well under tension. Anyone can start writing. To keep on creating and to grow as a writer you also believe you suck. You question everything you write. I know writing students who really do seem to believe they are great, they love writing, they write a lot, they seem blandly cheerful….they spew out words. They have no doubt, they reveal no anxiety. I think that is great. But my students who are doing really fine work, really committing themselves to writing honestly, deeply, and truly—-they have anxiety. They doubt themselves all the time. Writing stuff that is going to affect other people intensely is walking a fine line between anxiety and pleasure—-its a vibe you ride.”

I actually love this advice. I find it present not just in writing but other forms of art as well. Some of the most nervous, most introverted people are the most talented: the “Brilliantly Untalented” and Undiscovered Geniuses. This is not to say you party goers out there should worry. Nor is this to say the introverted are overcome with intense fear, for fear and faith cannot coexist (one will rule out the other). But they have a kind of humility that seems to balance out the negative components of anxiety. They know that there is talent present, but they also believe that they suck. Is it contradictory? It may be, but yet this contradiction keeps them writing and keeps you reading. Every time I’m on stage to recite a poem my stomach turns into butterflies and it feels like everybody in the world is depending on me to deliver them from a crisis. It is a feeling of great pressure. Its an understanding that though I’ve been given a gift to bestow upon my audience, I am simultaneously aware that this gift is not mine; that it belongs to one greater than myself. Then I notice, that in such anxiety, I’ve tapped into a kind of depth people could really feel. I did not have to think too hard about it. Did not think so grand of myself that I would begin editing my soul I just spoke, hoping the butterflies won’t make it so far up my throat. My belief that I am nothing, that I suck, and that I am Brilliantly Untalented, has in the end seemed to always produce the greatest work.