I’ve always loved words. In the days before pre-school I learned to read by osmosis, and was sent to school in term 3 at the age of 4 3/4. The enforced repeating of kindergarten at the beginning of the following year did nothing for my social skills. And in those days, when learning was by rote, teachers did not take kindly to shy kids who were the best reader in the class.
Despite, or because, of my ongoing nerdiness, I loved school – well, the learning bit. Making and keeping friends was harder, not to mention playing sport. Why didn’t anyone tell me that if I didn’t shut my eyes whenever a ball came towards a me, I’d have a better chance of hitting/ catching it as appropriate?
So I kept playing with words, usually managing to get something published in the annual school magazine. I was envious of those who got detention, because instead of being given lines to write, they were encouraged to write stories. Of course, it never occurred to me that I could still write the stories without getting the detention.
I was lucky to come from a family where girls were allowed to be bright, and in fact encouraged. So not going to university was never an option for me. But someone decided that an Arts degree would lead no-where and social work would be too depressing, so I was pushed into a Science degree. Talk about a round peg in a square hole. While my former school friends were on the Front Lawn protesting against the Vietnam war, I was stuck in labs, trying to make sense of scientific method, experiments and formulae. Fortunately this led to the relatively unknown profession of dietetics, where I could combine my love of food, my interest in people and my nurturing instinct to help people make food choices which would improve their health. But the words were largely left to one side. I read when I could, but until we had word-processors and I had a bit more time, writing stayed in the background.
When I retired – early thanks to inheriting some money, I enrolled in a creative writing class, which grew into to weekly meetings of aspiring writers. We self-published an anthology each year for several years. I had the occasional letter published in the Herald, even a short article, and won a prize in a short story competition, but I never had the perservance to write more than a few hundred words.
Then I decided it was time to fulfil a dream and enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts – the one denied me forty years earlier. Suddenly I was in a world of ideas rather than facts, where there were many shades of grey, not just true and false. I had come home. I’d seen enough miracle diet cures come and go over the years so that I was – and am – extremely cynical about evidence.
I loved writing essays, the playing with ideas, the honing of sentences, the feeling of satisfaction when something went right. Sure I stressed about finding the perfect reference, and thought that the young ones had a better grasp on concepts that I did, but the six years I spent studying were a wonderful privilege.
And now I have discovered blogging. I’m still at the early stage, but it provides the perfect vehicle for me to play with words and test out my ideas without the long hard haul of plot, characters and everything else associated with writing the Great Australian Novel, including the near impossibility of getting published.
If I am read, and replied to, that will be a bonus. At present I am content with the process of writing. They say there ar two types of writers – readers who write and writers who read. I have always considered myself to be one of the former. And will continue to be so. But now I will write more often.