What Writing Means to Me (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

So how did I get from teaching to writing? Well, first I had to go through my writer-poser stage. Here's how it all went down.

Along about my junior year in college, I grew increasingly aware that teaching kids was definitely not my thing, but I had no idea what was. Until one day I happened upon a number of print ads and billboards and books that had typos in them. I began to wonder what someone with an eye for these details could do.

That's when I hit upon book editing.

It all came clear so suddenly. I mean, wasn't I the girl you could find with a book in her hand in practically every place commonly known to man? At the dinner table, in the high-back chair in the living room, in the back seat of the car, at large family gatherings and holidays, in restaurants, and even in department stores, as I waited for my mom to try on clothes. My family would joke about it, but I didn't care. In my opinion, books were the best invention in the world, and learning to read the best gift ever given me.

Besides reading books, writing in my journal and writing essays for school were my favorite ways to pass time. That, and solving algebra problems. Oh, and maybe playing piano.

With this new direction, I took off running. I dropped the elementary education emphasis and began loading up on as many English classes as I could fit into my schedule. Which means, first, that I enrolled in a short-story creative writing class and made quick to let the professor know my plans. I appointed myself the learned and savvy editor of the class -- something I did without asking permission or even letting my peers know -- and committed more crimes against my classmates with my arrogance than I now want to remember.

I wrote some horrible stories.

In my heart and mind, I was headed toward New York or Boston as quickly as I could manage. I read Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner at least three times. I read Book Business: Past, Present, and Future by Jason Epstein. I read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird at least five times (and counting). And I discovered Emerson College, with their M.A. in Publishing and Writing. I visited and fell in love with it, and with Boston, wwhich is still, by far, my favorite metropolitan city in the States.

Along the way, I tried to write.

What began to emerge -- and become the bane of my existence for at least six years -- was nothing short of schizophrenia. I could not determine what I was: a writer or an editor? I had so much to say, had been clogged creatively my entire life, and wanted to let things out. But I didn't know how, no matter how hard I tried.

What happened next, in the midst of this manic schizophrenia, was the pained and crude development of my writer-poser self. We'll talk more about her in the next installment.