The writer’s gift

“There is no magic formula or secret spell to writing well. There is only hard work and a gritty determination to keep trying.”

My life’s trajectory was forever changed on the night of my eighth-grade graduation.

My English teacher, a strict German woman who’d struck terror into the hearts of middle schoolers for nearly three decades, had just handed me a powder blue envelope. Inside it, I found a pen and pencil set.

“For a writer,”my teacher had written in the accompanying card.

For a year, this teacher had drilled the rules of grammar deep into my skull. Her editor’s pen had made short work of my dangling participles and comma splices. My essays were often so riddled with errors that they came back to me bleeding red ink. Writing, I had realized early on in the year, was very hard work.

But what I remember most is not the toil or the frustration that comes with trying to make words behave on a page. What I remember most is the feeling of transcendence I experienced when I held that pen and pencil set in my hand. From then onward, I knew I was a writer.

I hope I can give you a little of what that middle school English teacher gave me that night. Because the truth is that anyone can become a writer. There is no magic formula or secret spell to writing well. There is only hard work and a gritty determination to keep trying. It’s like learning to play the saxophone. Practice, practice.

Yes, writing can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be lonely.

I invite you to learn and work with me. It will be fun. I promise.

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