Being Born With It
I was humiliated in my freshman high school English class. Twenty-three 15 year olds were my witnesses. My teacher read my essay to the entire class as an example of what not to do. She concluded “reading time” with a snide comment that has reverberated against skull and memory ever since. “Some people are born with it,” she said. “And some aren’t and never will be.”
I was not born with the ability to write. I am not a literary genius. I do not dream of metaphors or weave idioms into lines of text with careful calculated precision. I just wrote. I lived, breathed, and experienced my world like everyone else. The only difference between them and me was a solitary writing implement and the will to press it against paper.
When I started there was no magic to it. I found a beat up old school notebook. Its spine was like chicken wire. Inside, the pages were tan, brittle, and water damaged. I unceremoniously sacrificed a nearby pencil to a sharper and wrote a story. It was twelve pages long.
Looking back on it now, I can safely say it was terrifically terrible. Spelling was beyond me. Grammar, heaven forbid, was far beyond my immediate comprehension, never mind those annoying trivialities of plot, dialogue, and scene. I didn’t know any of this, of course. I turned to the next page and wrote another awful story. I was thirteen years old. I’m still turning pages, still writing stories of, I hope, considerable better quality.
I’ve never found writing to be an inborn talent. I don’t think little authors and poets are born with skill itching at their fingertips. But I do believe we are born with something. We are born with the seed at the back of our mind that blossoms as we age into our visions. We are born with the passion to communicate things, spoken word or body language can’t always capture.
I have an entire trunk full of chicken wire notebooks and another several to fill. The document folder on my computer is filled with 238 stories. I’ve been writing numerous stories online for the past five years to an audience larger than any English classroom.
I believe that writers are born with the patience to practice.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.