It's an art! It's a science! It's WRITING....... But seriously (remember the SNL skits in which Jane Curtain would laugh and then suddenly intone, "but seriously"?).
Writing is so many things all tied into a seemingly basic skill. From our earliest days, we work towards greater facility with language. The simplest of sentences slowly become more complex. Our vocabularies blossom as we learn to read and then read some more. For some, this is enough; for others, the written word speaks with a melody so engaging it cannot be ignored. Writing transitions from task to craft; an activity once somewhat obligatory becomes instead one craved and missed. The ante grows as does the writer's passion. Some pieces flow with ease while others exhaust their authors word by word. Thoughts that are particularly difficult to accurately express can plague, like a shard of impossibly thin glass which has pierced your skin but which you cannot see to remove.
When I started college, I was woefully ill-prepared for its academic rigor. I'd been a valedictorian (one of seven; I should have suspected something was sketchy about that) of my high school, and though chemistry had never been my friend, I assumed college would be a challenge but not one that brought me to my knees (it was for a bit!). I placed out of freshman writing and though I enjoyed composition as a lovely means to an end (papers, exams, thesis), it was never something I thought I'd do beyond school. Yet, during my years spent working in undergraduate admissions, I found that one of my favorite parts of the job was reading applicant essays. I relished time spent with others' words and approached each piece with an enthusiastic editorial eye.
Since "retiring" from work to stay home with the boys, I've been fortunate to have many opportunities to help friends, family and clients craft application essays, cover letters, resumes and notes to potential contacts. And then came Em-i-lis. Through this work, I've not only honed my own voice but also come to deeply respect and love the art and science of writing. It's a rigorous discipline but also a creative one. It's a glorious way to express oneself or one's thoughts but demands responsibility, both in accuracy and honesty (a creative writer I am not, so I speak from a non-fiction perspective).
I had exceedingly little time today to work on my piece that's due tomorrow, and I was struck by how antsy that made me. Not because of the deadline, which is more a suggestion than a rule, but because I truly craved immersing myself in the process. My Dad is a doctor, my Mom is a forever student and teacher of literature, and my sister has wanted to act for as long as both of us can remember, but I never had such a clearly defined passion and that bothered me. I felt something was slightly amiss- why couldn't I figure this out? Don't I deeply love something, for pete's sakes? Indeed I do.
Better late than never, eh?