Monday, May 25, 2015

How we got here

There has been some debate lately, particularly on the Internet, as to whether one can learn to be a good writer or whether it is an innate skill.

I am here to testify that through hard work, steady practice, and a deep commitment even the most hapless writer can learn to write beautiful prose.

I know because that is the story of my journey.

Three years ago my communication skills had atrophied to the point where I could not write an intelligible grocery list. Responses to my rare emails all came back  "I don't understand what you're trying to say" or simply "?". My confusing notes for my colleagues at work became such a problem that it was politely suggested I seek professional help.

So I went to consult with a tenured, major research university English Professor.  

The English Professor said that if I didn't do something soon, in two years I would be unable to communicate the simplest concepts. I would be locked inside the shell of myself, with only my own, increasingly confusing, thoughts to keep me company.

This Professor scared me straight.

I decided to do what I should have been doing all along. I decided to start a daily blog.

It was a deep challenge from the start. My first post was entitled "The" and read:

Medum yela thing.

But I did not give up! I wrote every day, striving to communicate simple concepts. I had my first success just into my third week of blogging. The title was "Cats" and it read:

I like cats.

Of course, my posts weren't all that good over the next few months, but this success was important because it let me know that I could do it. I had it in me. This was also, interestingly, the high point of my blog's popularity. My cat post was viewed over 8 million times in the course of three days.

After five months of daily writing I wrote "The winter story". It was my longest post yet and read as follows:

In Winter it gets cold. I go outsyde. I have a cote that I wear cause its cold. My hands get cold.

This piece filled me with confidence, perhaps too much confidence, because I followed shortly afterwards with an ambitious blog post entitled "Let's hear it for oranges!" This is the text of that over-reaching essay:

Oranges are some kind of fruityou eats fork. Peels have the bright it is very with the taste and how do I best describe in the way you have describe. Hey to oranges that oranges more times different than grapefruit orange different.

That night I cried myself to sleep.

But I did not give up!

I slowly built myself back up and a few weeks later I wrote a piece called "Cats". You can readily see that I reigned my ambitions in a little, nevertheless I feel I met with a very real success. The short piece said simply:

I like cats.

Many people were very supportive of this piece, though a few mentioned that it reminded them of one of my earlier posts. I took this in a positive light. I felt it showed I was establishing a voice!

At this point I am pretty sure I plateaued for awhile. I won't say I was afraid, but "Let's hear it for oranges!" was on my mind during the next year when I wrote many posts committed to my interest in cats. Nevertheless I managed to hit a high point in that period with a piece I called "The Cat". It read:

Cats are really neat. I like gray ones, but black ones are really nice too!

My confidence was bolstered yet again, and the next day I wrote a piece called "How we got here". 

You just finished reading it.


  1. Either U R genuinely being unkind 2 your gifts or U R once again whipping them up into another confection. I know it's the later.
    Silly Goose, everyone knows black kitties R better!

    1. I was trying hard not to pit the gray vs. black, but I suppose it was hopeless. I will accede to your wisdom on cat colors.

  2. I have a sudden need to eat at orange.

    1. Really? Maybe that one wasn't such a bad post after all...


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