I Don’t Know How To Write — But That Doesn’t Stop Me From Trying


DISCLAIMER: My cadence is staggered and my flow is as choppy as ceviche. Ceviche is delicious. My writing is not. So please, don’t expect anything palatable.

I knew once red scribbles emerged from the bottom of my name that I would never become a writer. I’ve never been the MVP of paying attention. Concentration was a card game I played as a child, not a conditioning technique to perform well in the sport of focus. My brain is as scattered as rainstorms in March. And I’m not a user of complete sentences. Truly, it’s in everyone’s best interest that I’m not granted a license to speak. After a sputter of rusty words and the ignition finally turns, my mind presses its toe on the peddle. Sentences turn into babble that rams into the tail end of another idea until I create a traffic jam of a conversation. Streams of my consciousness are constantly colliding underneath my scalp; they don’t know how to stay in their cornrowed lanes. I’m the driver that you’ll inherently hate because I don’t know where I’m going. I drift off the lane to merge into a rough tread of ellipses only to be awakened by the airbags of punctuation after crashing. As you can tell I’m a terrible conversationalist and an even worse driver. So please, forgive me for this wreck of a paragraph.

You see, I really don’t know how to write. I mean, technically I do. In grade school my penmanship was beautiful – calligraphy at its finest. However, by middle school cursive was rendered useless in the terms and conditions of small print. Unfortunately, nothing’s really changed since then. Yes, Cingular is now known as AT&T, but I still have the vocabulary of a fifth grader. I don’t know how to use adverbs and I genuinely don’t know how to use a semicolon. Honestly, I don’t think anyone does, but alas that is where I find solace. Now that I think about it I take that back. I really shouldn’t insult fifth graders. Have you seen that show they have?! When I see a word working up beads of sweat after being overused, I right click to find its stunt double. Speaking of stunt doubles, I couldn’t find a replacement to write my essay for the SAT, so my writing score was laughable and the fact that I’m even in college is hilarious. And as 20 years of serving as a mediator, I find it super embarrassing that I’m still not able to get my subjects and verbs in agreement. REALLY. There is a reason why the engineering life chose me: because I was the last kid sitting on the bench after all of the divvying. There is a reason why I chose the engineering life: because science doesn’t care about my juvie record. On the quest to be criminally creative I committed several grammatical felonies and ended up in Twitter jail. My parole is that I cannot post a tweet unless it has been revised about six times. I really wish I were kidding.

To be a writer you don’t need to be an inked quill wielding sorceress, profusely scribbling on papyrus. That’s only possible on Halloween, except even that doesn’t seem right. There’s no way a witch would be writing with a quill on papyrus! That’s totally historically and geographically inaccurate! Unless the witch cast a spell to go back in time and travel to Egypt and…. No seriously, I don’t know how to write. Why someone hasn’t taken this computer away from me? I don’t even know what this document is. An article? Manifesto? But enough about semantics. The witch definitely used a time machine.

To be a writer you must have a voice. The majority of the time I remain tight-lipped and anxious. I hold my breath. I don’t really talk to people, but when I do I just communicate by asking questions and interjecting a series of giggles, “mmhms,” “wow’s,” and ready-made declarations. I’m pretty much a mime. I keep their momentum going with the propulsion of head nods and gesticulation and carefully constructed façades. With my daily face painting and wardrobe full of black skinnies and striped shirts, I definitely find the title as a mime fitting.

To be a writer, you must be understood. That’s really hard when you’ve been told your whole life that you don’t make sense. My uncle says that as much as musicians love their fans, they don’t perform for their audiences. They perform for themselves with hope that the meaning behind their melodies transcends the room. My uncle also said something about practice. Do you know why it’s so easy to breathe? It’s because the parasympathetic system controls your lungs. But he also mentioned that if you do something enough times, good or bad, it becomes second nature. After 10,000 hours of rehearsals musicians aren’t concerned whether they’re seen as great because they already believe that they are. The problem is that I’m not a musician, nor a writer. I’m a blind man driving, a mime that’s trapped inside a box of insecurities I created with my metaphorical hands. But I’m also learning that there is nothing concrete about the sky and that the walls I’ve fashioned can crumble with a mere exhale.