A Slow Learner

imageAccording to an article I read recently I wasn’t born to be writer. The article was written by a teacher, more specifically a  college professor, who taught creative writing and literature to young minds seeking a master’s degree in the “fine arts”.

According to this learned individual my chances of success in becoming a writer is quite bleak since I didn’t aspire to become a writer at a young age; nor did I follow the hallowed path of college and a liberal arts education immediately after high school. In his humble opinion there is little to no chance of me, or my kind ever becoming “real” writers.

The “real” writer, according to him, is one who aspires to literary versus commercial success as a writer. The writer who would rather have the accolades of a Pulitzer Prize or Nobel Prize in literature for a piece that may only sell a thousand copies vice the success of a “hack” writers who make millions of dollars entertaining people around the world with their writing.

I did NOT aspire to be a writer as a youngster; my aspirations were on a more practical profession, one that would provide for my family and me and one I must say I have enjoyed over the past 40 years.

While I was, and still am an avid reader, I was thoroughly bored with J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and several other notable works of literary fiction forced down my throat by a well-meaning English teacher in high school.

Since I didn’t embrace literary works as a young man am I doomed to not become a writer?

It is only recently, around my 60th birthday, that I have come to appreciate the “classics” of literature.  Please don’t have a heart attack, but I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird this summer; and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Some may say I am a slow learner, but I believe that in truth what I have learned in nearly 40 years association with the military, commercial enterprise, and life in general, gives me more of an appreciation of what I read now than in my younger years. Years, by the way, that I spent reading military history, biographies, and an untold number of books on business, leadership, and other practical matters; and the occasional fiction of Alex Haley, Michener, and Crichton.

In the 70’s, I found that after a four-year hiatus from school I was ready to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Seeking my higher education later, I actually enjoyed learning and know I got more out of those classes than if I’d gone straight to college; and so it is today with honing my literary skills.

In college, I could stand toe-to-toe with a philosophy professor; I actually “got it” when it came to algebra, and I came to appreciate sentence structure and grammar. So too I am now more aware of what I read and words are more alive to me than in high school English.

No, Mr or Ms fine arts, English major, college professor; I may not have aspired to writing as a young man, but over my vast number of years living life, I have fallen in love with the written word. I have fallen more in love with fiction and the idea that humans are the only of God’s creatures that can tell a story.

I bring years of real experience to my writing.

Unlike a young college student with limited life experience, we “seniors” can bring so much of real life to our readers. Just look at some of the writers who hit their strides later in life; authors like James Michener, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Anna Sewell.

Some may call me a slow learner, but in reality, I’m just hitting my stride; so move over kid, grandpa’s going to write!

And read! Maybe it’s time to tackle J.D. Salinger again.

Never forget to: JUST WRITE!