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My Roundabout Path to the Title of ‘Writer’

I recently updated my about page on this blog to start with the following:

“Kaitlin identifies first and foremost as a writer, and is often happiest when she can let her fingers fly over a keyboard. Whether she’s writing a novel, a news article, a press release, a blog, or just an email or a tweet, she is inspired by the power of language. Kaitlin’s love for writing has led her many places, from journalism to marketing to communications to public relations (and of course to this blog), and she expects it will continue to take her on exciting journeys, even if they’re only in the world of her own stories.”

It’s practically dreamy, and it’s safe to say my relationship with writing is pretty starry-eyed these days.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Rewind about ten years, maybe fifteen, and you’ll find a student who was more than happy to do most of her assignments, except writing ones. I was homeschooled for my entire pre-college education, and I’m sure my mother’s memories of my frustration and occasional breakdowns over writing assignments are as fresh as mine. I remember considering an exercise that required me to use that week’s vocabulary words in a story — an exercise that sounds like a perfect writing prompt now — to be completely pointless and awful. (Thanks, Mom, for hanging in there. You deserve many rewards for that kind of patience.) I loved reading from a young age, but when the time came for me to write reflections or essays on what I had read, I hated it, every single agonizing minute of it. When the College Board announced that they would add a writing section to the SAT, just around the time I was headed for college, I became convinced that the world was against me.

But also at this time, during my high school years, the Internet was booming with social sharing sites like MySpace, Xanga, and newcomer-at-the-time, Facebook. Most of my friends were also obssessed with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and I would stay up late into the night chatting with people by typing. In late high school, a handful of my friends had blogs or journals, and I was fascinated by their ability to talk about their life in a funny or relevant way. Before I knew it, I had been pulled in by the power of writing. (This blog post isn’t really about how technology can actually improve and increase writing skills, but if that’s what you were going for, here’s a great xkcd comic.)

Soon, I was actually enjoying most of the essays I wrote for my high school literature classes. Still, I carried on with my original plans of going to nursing school. I told everyone that that’s what I would do. I had found my perfect niche in the sciences in the study of biology and anatomy. (It’s funny how time changes things; now I’m tempted to laugh at that sentence.) I was good at memorizing, and I liked learning about the science of the body and the world. And nursing would let me help people while earning a nice, livable wage. It was perfect.

It was so admirable, so well-planned. So why did I make a complete one-eighty with my education and become an English and Spanish major with, get this, a philosophy major? (I know. I ditched every element of STEM, and ran headlong into the humanities.) Honestly, some days I don’t really know why. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sciences. I do. In fact, I fell in love with and married a man who writes code and majored in math, and quite a few of my friends are doctors, scientists, and engineers.

But writing and the love of words grabbed me — somewhere between when I first read a blog and when I took my first college composition class — and it didn’t let me go.

So, here’s to nearly ten years of actually liking writing!

And here’s to now considering my most fitting and my most beloved title – even though it was once my most reluctant – to be “writer.”

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