I to hate reading.
For someone with the attention span of a goldfish, looking at a bunch of words on a page isn’t fun at all. Every time I pick up a book, I find myself reading the same sentence over and over again, until I finally fall asleep.
I never considered myself to be a reader, so how could I become a writer?
It kept me from taking myself seriously as a writer for almost 16 years, as reading and writing are usually associated with each other. I knew I loved writing, it was a way for me to easily express my feelings about the world around me.
The only reading and writing activity I would participate in was writing letters to people. Some classes I took in middle and high school required us to write letters to our peers. Likewise, as a form of appreciation for each other, my friends and I wrote to each other. Even the children I was a camp counselor for wrote thank you letters. The only thing in common with all these letters is that I still have them. I keep them in a giant manila envelope and read them from time to time. Every time I do this I get the same burst of joy that I did when I first received them.
The summer before entering college, I started journaling to keep my sanity out. Each evening I would sit in bed, typing on a blank document, noting every detail of my day: what I was wearing, what I ate, what songs I listened to on repeat. Some of my entries would span more than one page. There was something so relaxing about the writing, whether it was about how my day went or an opinion I had. There was a joy attached to putting my thoughts on a page.
That same year, I decided to start posting a few pieces on a Wix site I had created, opening my work to the public on a whim. I didn’t share it with a lot of people because it was just for me to play with. But, the more I wrote, the more I wanted others to read it. Again, I never considered myself a writer by trade, but while browsing social media, I saw the recruiting ad for the Michigan in Color section of the Michigan Daily, and became curious.
But the request was due in like, a week.
I opened the Google Form and let the tab sit on my computer window for hours. I would start filling out the form and immediately clear my progress.
How could I write for a journal when I can’t even read a chapter and the only things I write are stupid opinions on a Wix site?
On the day the request was due, I looked at the Google Form one last time.
I started typing my name and then slowly started to work your way through the rest of the application form.
Closing my eyes, I hit “Submit”.
I waited nervously, checking my emails frequently for the next two days, until I finally got the email about 3-4 days later, asking to be interviewed.
I love interviews because I think I can express my passion more clearly virtually than through writing. I answered the basic “why would you write for us” questions and felt pretty confident until the very last question.
It was something like “Who is your favorite author, and / or what is your favorite piece from them and why?” “
My brain froze. I couldn’t tell you the last book I read or the last author I followed. I don’t even remember how I answered this question, but I do remember leaving the interview regretting all of my decisions to apply for this position.
I do not read. So WHY the hell did I think I could write for a journal of all things?
A few days passed and as I scoured my inbox terribly, I read “Congratulations! And I almost spit out the coffee I was sipping. The post was from the section editors and I was delighted that my writing was going to be read by a wider audience, but nerves and doubt persisted.
As I went through my first editing session with the editors, editor, and editor, that feeling worsened. My article document was covered in comments on my sentence structure, stylistic choices, and other notes that tore my writing to shreds. However, as I worked through the changes, I felt like I was gaining more and more momentum. I love solve them. With each resolution, I felt my writing and my confidence grow stronger. I was able to look at my own piece from a new perspective. Every day before my next article, I was scouring the Michigan Daily website extensively and reading all the latest articles just for inspiration, and I just had amusing read them.
It was a surreal feeling. I hadn’t felt so passionate about anything since first year with music. Looking back, I would like to think that I consume literature differently. Yes, I still despise reading chapters and textbooks, but those letters people wrote to me in high school, the Michigan Daily articles or other Wix sites people make just to post their own opinions, I could read them for hours. There’s no a way of consuming media, and because of that, I now realize that there is no a way to become a good writer.
I am truly humbled whenever I can write about whatever I want on this platform and I am even more grateful to the people who read my work and contact me. I don’t have the chance to contact the people who wrote letters to me in middle school and high school and tell them how much their words resonate with me. So having people who can connect with my writing and my emotions, even though they’ve never seen my face, is the most humiliating feeling.
Columnist MiC Smarani Komanduri can be contacted at [email protected]