What does it mean to be “a good writer”? I’m not quite sure… Does it mean one has good grammar? Does it mean one uses interesting words that most people have forgotten? Does it mean they can paint a picture with their words so the reader sees what the writer saw? Or does it mean they can drag the reader into the words, show them from the inside out what the writer was feeling?
I’m not sure. I never really thought of myself as a writer. I mean, I was good at writing all through school. I did well in my high school creative writing class. I enjoyed writing literal poetry. I was in AP Literature & Composition, and I blew through my early college writing classes. Writing 121 was slightly boring, but not overly complex, and for some reason I loved my technical writing class. I mainly wrote scientific analyses through my last two years of college. Papers that conducted literature reviews, write-ups of experiments and theoretical studies. From tourism analyses to songbird vocalization experiments to theoretical ranch grazing rotation plans, I did it all. And I enjoyed it. I got a high from writing the introduction and discussion sections of my papers on things like feral camels in Australia and wolverine denning sites. I enjoyed the research, the learning, and the transformation of simple words into a learning experience for someone else.
But now, I find myself writing about my emotions; my thoughts and feelings, deep inner fears and concerns. And I am told by my parents and friends that I am a “good writer”. The more I write, the more I want to keep on writing, and not just for a private journal or blog. I want to use my writing to help others. How? I’m not sure yet. I have a degree in Fisheries & Wildlife Science, not English or Communication, or even Psychology. And those seem to be the areas where writing is most often used to reach out to people. Sometimes I wonder about sociology… could I do a Masters in it? Could I mesh my love of animals and conservation with sociology and tourism? Could I make a career out of those things? Could I use my writing to reach out to people and help inspire them to care more about the environment?
How does one even start with that? Do I look into possibly getting a job at a local newspaper? Do I just start writing random things that happen in my life and hope others find it interesting enough to warrant a memoir? Do I even have enough stories at 21 years old to write a memoir? I don’t know, although for that last question I believe the answer would be “no”. All I know is that I find solace in writing. It calms me. It helps me organize my wildly over-thinking brain. And I usually learn something about myself during the process of setting my jumbled thoughts in text.
So what does a “good writer” do with that skill? That’s the question I’m asking myself today. If I have a talent or skill for something, I’d like to figure out a way to use that skill to benefit others. I don’t really have any wish for fame and fortune. I don’t long to see my face on the back of a book cover or a bus, promoting my writing. If anything, I’d rather be an anonymous writer, inspiring others to push forward with their dreams without claiming the credit.
One of my favorite books & movies is Under the Tuscan Sun, the memoir of Frances Mayes. I’m not sure what it is about that book that calls to me – speaks to me – but it drags me in, makes me nostalgic, and makes me dream of a future I’ve never before longed for. It makes me hope that although I have no set ideas about my own future, my future might find me… find me a family of misfits and a place far away from all I know where I can make some small difference. Find me a place where I can be constantly surprised by the wonders around me, learning new languages, meeting new people, and becoming part of an entirely new community.
I want to write a book like that, about the simple adventures of everyday life in a wonderful place. I want to make a place and the people in it come alive the way Frances Mayes brought Tuscany to life for me. I want to touch some other girl’s heart with the simple love of neighbors helping one another out. And if I can learn to broaden my own cooking horizons, I’ll gladly charge ahead into the unknown.