When I was born, computers were not part of my parents’ sweetest dreams. I grew up at a time when phones were corded and had old fashioned dials (the circular one, you know?), the internet and wifi were not even a thing of a distant future, and smart phones and iPads would be considered ETs. As you can see, writing up to 140 characters and clicking on copy and paste came about long after a lot of paper was wasted.
In school, we had typewriters where teachers typed their long and difficult tests. My uncle had one of those, and I loved going over to his house to type some letters. They were messages to myself or to some imaginary friend with whom I enjoyed talking about “life”. However, I liked writing notes to my mother by hand. Whenever I went to bed before she got back from work, she would find a little note about homework difficulties or the time I wanted to be woken up the next morning, as if she needed that. In fact, until this day, I do appreciate handwritten notes.
When in college, studying to be a journalist, I had to write a lot. There were loads of papers. Thankfully, by that time, computers were available, and I had already stopped typing on typewriters with carbon paper.
As a journalist, my writing was never perfect. I always felt like changing my stories over and over again. I knew writing involves editing, but I was hardly ever satisfied with the final result. Since time is always ticking in this profession, I’d constantly have this feeling of failure. Only when I started working on not so tight deadlines, was I able to appreciate and really work on my writing. I guess when I write, I need to think about it, digest the ideas, research the topic, let it sit for a while, get back to it, make the necessary changes, and eventually, come to that final period.
In graduate school writing became a difficult exercise, full of challenges and quite time consuming. I was no longer writing in Portuguese, my native language, but in English. Although I had written articles for foreign publications, they were nothing compared to academic papers.
Since then, writing in English has been a part of my professional life as an ESL professor, as a blogger and as a friend. At the same time, writing in Portuguese was never a thing of the past. While living abroad and during my travels, I kept a blog for family and friends, and wrote many emails and cards to those who I had left behind. Writing is in everything I do, be it teaching, translating, editing, or consulting.
Lately, I’ve been experiencing writer’s block. I stare at blank pages that need to be filled and nothing happens, nada. Am I running out of words and ideas? Am I a writer?