Part 1 of 2
Although I always wanted to write, I never thought I would become a writer or least of all a columnist. As a pre-teen, I spent some of my summer vacation writing letters to relatives in other cities. My mother gave me permission to write letters to relatives who were in jail. I was glad to have a captive audience that appreciated my inexperienced letter-writing. After I graduated from high school, I wasn’t the writer I wanted to be, and I didn’t know how to become one. Decades later, five events led me to becoming a columnist.
When I went back to school, in the spring of 1980, I took Ethics. The following semester I took English Composition 101 and Logic. None of the subjects showed me how to become a writer-or I was inattentive to what was going on. But in 1981, I was able to tell someone that I wanted to be a writer. This happened in the counselor’s office of Wilbur Wright College at 3400 N. Austin. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “My husband says I should take up computers.”
“I didn’t ask you what your husband wants you to do,” he said as he thumped his pen on the desk. “I want to know what you want to do.” The counselor seemed impatient with me. I thought I had better stop wasting his time.
He looked like a serious-minded person and maybe I could trust him with my secret. He wouldn’t laugh at me if I told him what I truly wanted to do. It was difficult for me to say it, but I forced the words out. “I want to be a writer,” I said.
“Well, let’s get you started in a writing class,” he said. “What about Creative Writing?” I said OK.
After the Creative Writing class, I didn’t know very much about writing or even how to begin a story. Discouraged, I stopped going to school. In the fall of 1985, I went back to Wright College where I gained skills in writing essays. The teacher explained grammar, punctuation, prepositional phrases, etc. He taught the class how to recognize complete sentences. I learned a lot about the craft of writing. As the semester moved on, my teacher said my writing improved with each lesson. I got passing grades on all the class tests.
Unlike the Creative Writing teacher, the English Composition 102 teacher used several textbooks that I didn’t mind buying. One book he used was titled Writing the Research Paper. The teacher showed the class how to plan, organize, document, and compose a 10-page research paper. I started to realize this was where I could learn to write. I studied hard, and I received an “A” on my research paper at the end of the term. A feeling of uncertainty came when the English teacher told the class there was a certain kind of person who would make it as a writer. That person, he said, liked details. At the time, I didn’t know what details were or if I were a person who would like them.
Was there a possibility that I could become a writer?
To be continued.