One of the major thought processes that severely hinders my ability to write is worry. Look, I know that this isn't some major breakthrough. EVERYONE worries about their writing, whether it's concern over whether anyone will read it or care, etc or whether they have inaccurately formed sentences that make them seem as though they shouldn't have progressed past the seventh grade. In fact, that sentence I just completed kind of makes me think the latter. The reason is likely because (as one college professor sweetly pointed out to a class she obviously thought was full of baboons) I went to public school and at my Public School we didn't learn the correct way to formulate sentences. Actually, this may or may not be true. I can't really tell you. Because I don't remember.
Here are the things I remember about elementary school:
1. We had a library full of Macintosh computers, from the time I was a kindergartner until I left for middle school. We were in there all the time using them and we played educational games (not just Oregon Trail!) and as I got older we used them to type papers and Learn. Just not about writing.
2. I used to constantly check out two books from the library. The school library's choice was something called Black Magic and I have no idea what it was about or who it was by, but it had a green and white cover and I read it several times. The second was from the real library and it was a black and white photography book about the New York City Ballet. I checked it out so often that my 3rd grade teacher suggested that perhaps I was indicating an extreme desire to dance (I was). I started lessons a few months later, but the difficulty was not only that ballet classes were ridiculously expensive and completely unsustainable financially. The REAL difficulty (to me) was that my sister hated them. And (while this would likely shock many parents now – including that SAME sister) my mom had no motivation to take ONE kid to an extra-curricular activity when she had TWO to watch. That was just faulty math when I was a kid.
3. When I was in fifth grade I started putting on puppet shows for the second graders. I was a traveling show, complete with several different voices and some sort of costume/puppet house set-up. I don't know.
I'm sure there are a few more things I remember, but what I'm getting at here is that none of these things involve sentence structure. I'm pretty sure that that the only reason I know what a noun is is because I loved Mad-Libs and you can't just pretend to know what these things are when you're standing in front of an older sister demanding an adjective. I should have taken more college English, but I AP tested out of having to take it at all and then I didn't study for my GMAT and only got a decent score because of my higher Verbal and Written marks and LOOK, THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE YOUR KIDS DO WORKSHEETS. I will read the shit out of every book I get my hands on, but I can't promise that the book review will even be readable. I suppose I'm getting at this: I'm a nerd, I likely only know how to loosely construct a halfway decent sentence because I grew up reading about a chapter book a day and I'm comfortable with, yet anxious and sad about the fact that I'm no writing genius.
Look, I've probably lost you by now. But here is where I'm headed: I am not worried that people are judging my writing, I'm worried that readers are judging my THOUGHTS. Because Every Single Thing I write could literally come with a disclaimer that reads: Prone to hyperbole! Recognizes the gray in all issues, but takes a stance when writing because it's an easier way to tell a story! This is not a direct reflection of your writing or your thoughts or maybe not even the VERY STORY I'M TELLING because editing changes everything!
So, there's that delightful bit of neurosis. Whenever I read anyone else's writing, I have the fuzzy filter in the back of my head where I realize that hey! This person is three dimensional! This person is not capable of giving me every detail or thought or intention! And that means it's a snapshot, not a novel and THAT'S OK.
Well, I hope that's out of the way. Internet, I promise that I am never writing anything that is comprehensive. There are many sides and details and all that. You're smart, Internet. I'm sure you knew this.
And I will leave you with a story: A few years ago, I moved cross country from San Francisco to New England. My mother is allergic to technology, both because it's completely foreign and because she kind of actually thinks the computer is going to radiate her.
Some time before I left, I bought her a PC and set aside a few days to at minimum teach her how to email. I am NOT exaggerating when I tell you that mouse skills alone took a full day to master. However, by the time I left she was able to Google, email and check on-line banking. I am wicked proud of these skills, which she still possesses. Sort of. She still DOES these things, but they're usually preceded by her clicking on her browser and then whining about how the new page doesn't pop up IMMEDIATELY because WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG? For someone who still goes to the payment center to pay her energy bill, I'm surprised at this hasty attitude. It IS that Louis CK skit. IT IS GOING TO SPACE. GIVE IT A MINUTE.
(A quick aside. (I know I do this a lot.) When I lived away and was in school I frequently used GTalk to communicate with my fellow classmates, requiring us to amuse each other with status updates when we couldn't speak in class. If your mom is newly learning to use a computer with her fresh Gmail account, it is wise to not make some completely unnecessary joke about syphilis. I'm sorry, Mom. I never had syphilis. Promise.)
Last week my mom was trying to forward an email to her niece and it's taking SO LONG (probably 4 seconds, but I wasn't in the mood for details and clearly neither was she). After several minutes where she READ ME THE GMAIL INBOX, I asked her what she was really asking me. HOW COULD I SOLVE THIS FOR HER? WHAT WAS SHE GETTING AT? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM.
And this is when she tells me that she wants me to sign out of the internet because I'm probably responsible for making it go slower.