I have always known I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but I’ve had numerous road bumps along the way, ranging from receiving extremely negative feedback about my writing all the way to difficulties with the English language. When I was younger and divulged my life-long goal of becoming a writer to inquiring minds, I was told I would never make it. I was disappointed at first, but I always continued to press on. The hardest of my writing obstacles to overcome though has been improving my writing skills. To be completely honest, I never learned grammar and basic sentence structure in grade school, so as you can imagine that posed a very serious threat to achieving my lifelong goal.
My lack of English knowledge stems all the way back to early childhood. In first grade we were told if we didn’t know a word while we were writing, just to write the first letter and a blank space. A couple of years ago, I went to re-read my writing and it literally looked like: I h____ to b____. S____ is h____. Right, of course I knew what 1st grade Diane was trying to say. The rest of grade school and middle school weren’t much better. I learned math, science, and about the battle of Gettysburg, but English was still a mystery. Don’t get me wrong, we had “English” class, but it mainly consisted of reading books and then writing about what we read. I was fine with that because like grown-up Diane, I LOVED reading, but I had no clue that I was falling even more behind in my English skills.
College was rough for writing, especially my freshmen year. At first I was so excited that I was able to actually write for my English class and that it was part of the curriculum! I spent countless hours on my first assignment ready to wow the professor. When it was time to receive our grades, he haphazardly threw the paper on my desk. My eyes were glued to the red D+ staring back at me. D+!? I had never even received a C in my life, let alone a D! And what was with the plus, did he think it would make the D more bearable? I tried to hold myself together in class, but as soon as we were released, I ran into my dorm room and buried my head into my pillow. Maybe everyone was right and I was an awful writer and should just give up.
But of course, I couldn’t do that; I’ve never been one to throw anything out the window without putting up a good fight. Good grades were very important to me so I begrudgingly emailed my English professor and asked for help. He graciously walked me through all my errors, and let me tell you, there were many. I took his suggestions to heart and tried to remember each rule as I continued to finish assignments for his class. When I received an A on the last paper for his class, I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement. I did it! Never had I worked so hard for a class; I felt like I really earned that A!
The rest of college I learned even more about writing and found out I still had many more problems that needed addressed. I had a sense of deja vu in my Public Policy class; my first paper came back with a D scribbled across the top, no plus this time. After class, my teacher gently suggested I see a writing tutor. I was mortified. A writing tutor!? How could my writing be that awful? After the initial shock wore off, I made an appointment with our on-campus writing center and was assigned a tutor. I was so nervous for our first session, but was pleasantly surprised by the “amazingness” of my tutor. She never talked down to me, and she got right down to business. Thanks to her and many long nights, I received an A in that class and continued to improve.
After college, I kept finessing my writing skills at various jobs. I had some fabulous bosses that gave me great tips that helped me obtain my current job of being a full-time grant writer! So now, every single day I’m writing and getting paid to do so, whether it be requesting money from a foundation or composing an article for a donor newsletter.
When I came to the realization the other day that I am in fact a full-time writer, a small smile appeared on my face. I was told I would never make it as a writer and even though my path was tumultuous and this wasn’t what I originally dreamed of as a full-time writer, I still made it. One way or another, I didn’t give up. I’m still holding out hope that someday one of my books will be published, but right now, I’m living in the moment and enjoying every single day I have a chance to write.