I recently enrolled in a so called ‘MOOC’: a massive open online course. It’s a free course on academic writing offered by Duke University, titled ‘English Composition I – Achieving Expertise’. I am one of nearly 60,000 students from all over the world who will take part in this 12 week course.
For our first assignment we were asked to write a 300 word essay on the topic ‘I am a writer’. Here’s what I wrote.
I am a writer.
When I think of writing, I think of reading. When I was a little girl, even before I could write, I studied the signs next to the highway that said ‘exit’. I memorized the lines that made up the letters and as soon as I would get home I would get a pen and a piece of paper and reproduce them.
I was a writer!
I read everything I could, literally. No book in our house was safe. At lunch time I would read the text on the milk carton. I was hungry for words, constantly.
When I was younger, I wrote fiction. I have many notebooks filled with stories. And when I had no pen or paper around, they would still come out – I would tell my youngest brother stories during long car rides. He never wanted me to stop.
But I’m not a fiction writer. Maybe it was mainly practice. To exercise my brain in expressing myself with words.
What I love about writing is what I like to call ‘the flow’. Sometimes when I’m writing I get in the flow, and I can put the intangible thoughts and ideas in my head into words and they become real.
My recent writing has been about that: to observe the world around me, the people, the culture, and then put it into words for others to read.
I use writing to understand the world, and my place in it. I use it to put things into perspective. I use it to structure my thoughts.
For me, the biggest reward is when people appreciate my writing. When they read it and recognize it, or agree with it, or even when it upsets them. As long as they are not indifferent. And that’s why it can be so hard to write for an audience. Because my biggest fear is that my writing will not make a difference. That no one will care. That it’s just words, on a paper.
But no matter what, I will always know:
I am a writer.