Reading was definitely my first love, but writing was a close second. I loved writing stories, but more than that I loved, and still love, bringing pen or pencil to paper and letting my thoughts breathe outside my mind. A pencil that’s newly sharpened and leaves a small indentation in your finger when you press it to check the point is the beginning of a perfect writing session for me.
I learned how to write in cursive when I was in the third grade but I tried hard to curve my letters and flow “a” into “b” and then “c” long before penmanship was on the docket for me at school. I would look at my grandmother effortlessly swish her name across the page and wonder at her expertise. She’d cross her “t” with such precision, but for me, practicing a skill I’d never been taught just because I wanted to learn it sooooo bad, was impossible.
Once I got to third grade and we started on penmanship, I connected the lines easily as we moved through the alphabet. Even when we were directed to write letters without the connecting lines, I breezed through, it seemed absurd that I’d ever had any problems writing in cursive.
Then we got to the letter “G”.
Connecting the dots to create a “G” was easy peasy lemon squeezy, but when I was asked to write a capital “g” without my dots to guide me it was a disaster. Somehow I got away with pages full of shaky, quaky “g”s but then came the capital “Q”. It’s not quite an “L”, less looping and more like drawing a swan without the beak. Now, at 28, my mind can capture all sorts of images that make it easier to draw “Q” but when it came time for us to pass on to “R” by filling a page first with capital “Q”s and then lower case “q”s, I prepared myself to drop out of the third grade.
There would be no promotion to the fourth grade for Breanna J. McDaniel. I’d just read a book about two kids who lived in a museum and I saw the many possibilities in my local public library as a place to live out my days. Third grade dropout, sleeping in the juvenile mysteries section, that would be me.
When the day came for me to fill the page with “Q”s, I dutifully completed my task and prayed over the thick lines of my paper, just like I’d been taught. Somehow, when I got my paper back there was a big red check on the front and the next day I received the same worksheet for “R”s that everyone else in the class got. In hindsight, I’m sure all of my attempts at cursive before the fifth grade were equally terrible but it doesn’t matter, because I got better. Now I’m a penmanship rock star, although to be honest, “Q”s and “S”s still give me a little trouble.
That’s how I started with creative writing too. I’ve been writing stories and poems since before I can remember, and many of my writing started out shaky and quaky. I read back over some of my stories and many of them just end at chapter two or three. I wrote a play that I forced my friends to perform in college and there’s only one word I can use to describe that particular piece of art: “Yikes!”
But I got better.
Now, I’m editing two different books now. I’m doing OK, but I still have a lot to learn and I’m doing this all freestyle, no lines or dots to connect except the story lines in my mind and my mind is a web! Writing’s hard and sometimes it seems impossible but sometimes I get a big, red check on my book edits and I go to the next level. Sometimes I have to stay where I am and work out all of the wobbles and curves.
It doesn’t matter as long as we’re still writing and learning! We’ll get better.