There and Back Again. A Writer’s Tale

“Your grammar is atrocious. I’m beginning to suspect that you don’t know what you’re doing. Maybe you do, but I suspect that you don’t.” Those were some of the first words I had ever received from my Intro to Magazine instructor, Brad King. It was first attempt at writing a magazine article one that I thought would only contain a few pointers and edits upon getting it back.

It didn’t get any better, the harsh words continued and there were points where entire pages would contain a large red X through them.

“What’s wrong?” I would ask?

“It’s easier to tell you what’s not right,” Brad would tell me.

It was getting to the point that I was beginning to hate to come to class, the one thing I thought I was excellent at was turning out to be an embarrassment. I was beginning to doubt that I was ever cut out to be a writer. There were nights I would stay up until 6 AM writing, to only receive a paper back full of X’s.

I remember lying awake in my bed, staring at the ceiling wondering, if I had made the right choice to be a writer. I remember talking to my mother over the phone, telling her that I was considering dropping out of the magazine department, that writing was not for me, despite being told my entire life that I was made to be a writer.

“I don’t think I can do it anymore,” I told my mother over the phone. Trying my hardest to hold back tears of frustration.

“Can you imagine doing anything else with your life?” she asked me. “Can you imagine you doing anything else that makes you happy?”

I had thought about it for a minute before coming to a conclusion, I couldn’t.

Writing was always a form of escape for me. I often used it when I was face with emotions that I couldn’t tell anyone. I used it when I needed to vent and when I felt guilty.

That night I came to grips with the fact that I may never be a good writer, I may be a horrible writer, but I would never stop doing it. I would keep learning and keep improving. I would never let anyone take it away from me. Now matter how harsh Brad’s critiques would become, he could never stop me from learning to become better. He could never take the drive away.

I write this now because only a few hours ago I sat on my computer while Brad edited my work over the Google Doc. We joked around, he gave me some pointers and most importantly he edited.

When all was said and done he told me “This is the best thing you’ve ever written.”

He couldn’t see me, but I’m sure he could have imagined how I looked.

I was smiling, I couldn’t stop. It was during this moment that I had come across a tipping point in my life. I could finally see how far I had come from an unsure beginning magazine student to the author of a 13,000 word piece on the verge of being ready to be published.

The piece may have taken me 10 months to put together, but the process to actually write the piece and stand where I am now took me a lot longer. A lot had happened between the first time I stepped foot in Brad’s class to where I am now but the one thing that had remained constant along the way is that I never stopped writing.

From blog posts to articles, the writing never stopped and along the way Brad was there. To give me pointers, to tell me how to improve my writing, to recommend books that would help me develop my writing style, but above all to never give up on me and never go easy on me.

If he had gone easy, if his critiques would have been less harsh, I would have never developed to become the writer I am today.

And like he once told me, the road to success is long and hard, but how you get there doesn’t matter, its getting there that counts in the end.