Thursday, August 18, 2011

I am a teacher.

I do not know when I started thinking of myself as a writer. I can't even remember when I started writing; the only thing that is clear is I began writing letters to a dear childhood friend when my family moved to a different town. We were both seven. I answered letters promptly; he did not. It frustrated me.

This began a long career of letter-writing, where I was always destined to be the more frequent correspondent. At one point in my teen years I had 30 pen-pals -- thirty! But most of them hardly wrote, and I would wait months for a reply.

It seemed I could not stop writing. The letter writing didn't segue into stories, for all I would make them up in my head; instead, for some reason I began composing poetry instead. Very bad poetry. Adults told me it was good -- some of it even got published in our church newsletter. Today I wince each time I think about that. Perhaps it was just that in our little town they didn't know anyone else who wrote poetry, so to them it was a wondrous thing? I'm not sure.

The attachment to writing caused me to choose journalism as a career. I love writing, journalism involves writing, what could be more perfect? Of course, later I realised that although journalism involves writing, it is definitely only a particular style of writing. And then I discovered blogging. It was a way for me to write the things I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write them. In keeping with my earlier madness of having 30 pen-pals, I began to actively update 6 different blogs, each for a different purpose or subject. It seemed like I just couldn't write enough.

When I started teaching, I still privately thought of myself as a writer. It was the identity I'd held for so long that I was simply unable to imagine myself as a teacher, despite facing classes of 20 or more students every morning. But I found myself writing less and less as I immersed myself in my new career. I discovered a joy there which writing had never brought me. Writing is cathartic sometimes, an outlet for expression, but although it can be satisfying it is not fun. Spilling out words on a page is often easy for me, but it is a solitary activity and I love interacting with my students, despite being an introvert.

Slowly, so slowly I don't know exactly when it happened, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer and started thinking of myself as a teacher instead. Today, I can finally say that I am a teacher, not a writer. I don't know if I'll ever be a writer again.


siehjin said...

hi sis,

i think that people thought your poetry was good because you were a kid. how many kids can write poetry?!? =D

and, choosing between being a writer and being a teacher might be a false dichotomy. i don't see that the two are mutually exclusive...=)


caedmon said...

Nope. Definitely only allowed to be one thing at a time. Which is it going to be?


Sunflower said...

Well, one can hardly be a writer if one is not writing :p