Thursday, December 16, 2010

Early decision

Seventeen years ago today, I made a major life choice: I was going to be a writer. I'd been floating this career idea for a few years at that point; I liked books a whole lot, and loved the idea that books could be my job. The pencil-to-paper aspect had given me some doubts; readers who've seen my handwriting will not be surprised that learning to write was a struggle, and we didn't have a computer, so that option wasn't on the radar. But by this point, "write" had started to mean more than "form letters, and for Pete's sake, make them neater."

December 16, 1993 was the day everything clicked.

The assignment was to write a review of the stage version of Heidi we'd seen the day before. I started with a minor point (if I recall correctly, a graduate of our school had been in the play), and had a great time finding ways to connect it to other points until I'd said everything I wanted to say. It was like a game, and on that assignment, I felt like I was winning. Yes, I said to myself, This is something I can do. I think I will be a writer.

Yes, mathematicians, I was most definitely a kid, though I would've told you adamantly that I was a preteen. But only the details of my career plans have changed since then. Knowing I was going to be a writer affected the way I read, spoke, thought, joked, and played with words. It affected the way I listened to music and the way I interpreted the events around me.

I imagine I'd eventually have come to this decision with or without that one-paragraph assignment in Mrs. Anapolsky's class. But as it turned out, today is kind of the birthday of something I can't imagine my life without.

I celebrated by doing revisions.

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