Quoting the great Stephen King ” You can only learn by doing.”, I decided to embark on conquering one of my biggest fears – writing. As someone who claims to love words as much as I do, I express it in only one way. I read any books I can get my hands on. My affair with books started on the fifth grade of primary school when I saw the first five Harry Potter books owned by a friend. The thick,glossy covers with the titles embossed in gold caught my eyes. I picked one of the books randomly and began leafing through the content. While doing so,my friend told me the story of a boy whose parents were killed by an evil wizard and was sent to a magic school called Hogwarts. I have never heard anything quite like it before,so i sat down and spent the next hour reading the first book. I was in love. I didn’t want to go home without knowing every detail of the magic world that J.K. Rowling has created. I gathered my guts and asked to borrow the first book – Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. The books were expensive, and I was quite sure my parents weren’t going to fork out the money to buy them. Alas, her mother turned me down and I went home dispirited. I pestered my parents every day until they gave in and bought me the whole five books at Gramedia, my local book store. I got scolded pretty bad when we were home,but I shrugged the nagging feeling off. What I have always wanted is on my lap right now and I feel invincible. It was the happiest day of my life. After that, I read every night under the bed cover using a small light,afraid to be discovered. This habit continued until i reached junior high school.
I am glad I was introduced to the world of reading by excellent books – the ones crafted by J.K. Rowling herself, who is a master at story telling and remains as my favorite author. You never forget the first person who made you fall in love. This experience shaped my view of reading as an enjoyable activity, able to transport me to any place and any time at the flick of a page. Would it be different if I had picked the books written by other authors, who might not be as excellent as Rowling? Maybe. But it sure would be better if your first experience with something new is with the best in the field.
I haven’t had the same experience with writing. I didn’t remember writing about anything when I was a kid. I didn’t keep a journal or diary recounting the events of the days,like what I discovered with the American kids in the books I read. Our teachers at school didn’t encourage us to put our thoughts in words spoken or voiced, or just to have any opinions at all. It’s your classic “behave-and-be-quiet-else-you-are-going-to-be-punished” approach. That’s why most Asian kids are very unassuming and have this eager-to-please attitude. My Indonesian and English classes were spent memorizing vocabularies and idioms. I didn’t recall the teachers ever asked us to read a book and give our opinions about it,I kid you not, let alone asking us to write a book report. I did my first book report when I took extra classes outside school to help with my English. That was senior high school. I went through junior high school regurgitating everything I have read on the subject matter whenever I had essay questions in my exams. My bullshitting skill of filling up a full page with utter non-sense is untouchable. As long as the paper was full with words and there were a couple of ideas in there, I was gold.
So, I didn’t learn how to write concise, effective sentences in an organized way until I took those extra English classes on senior high school. It was a struggle to churn out the composition piece week after week; I didn’t find any joy in doing it. It was countless hours slaving away in front of the computer writing and editing. But when the piece was all done, it was all bells a-ringing and punching the air. I felt content and HAPPY. I stopped writing for fun when i quit the extra classes. That was three years ago.
I remember reading somewhere that everybody can be a reader, but not everyone can be a writer. I am going to try anyway. At least I will emerge victorious in battling my fear of putting pen into paper, or in my case fingers onto keyboards. Locking away all those insecurity issues i.e grammar mistakes, vocabulary,etc. into a tool box and being content with myself. I have a year to write as frequent as I can about anything. And here is to hoping it will continue. Cheers!
Any ideas? 🙂