Yesterday, I received an award for this blog at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards. I was very pleased to be chosen and I really didn’t expect to win it. No really, I didn’t!
It was a particularly sweet moment for me because writing was something I struggled with for much of my early life. For some reason, although I had no problem with reading, I found the physical process of producing words on a page very hard. My mum still talks about going to school on parents’ evening and finding exercise books with nothing in them. I would get 5 out of 10 in maths, not because I got 5 sums wrong but because it took me so long to copy the sums off the blackboard that I had only managed to do five before the lesson ended. Eventually, thanks to the perseverance of my parents and some good teachers, I learnt to write properly but I never found it easy.
Even at university, I used to sit with a dictionary by my desk to look up what most people would regard as quite simple words. I developed a succinct writing style in exams because, knowing that I didn’t write very quickly, I had to be able to make my points clearly in three-quarters of an hour. Where I could, though, I always avoided writing. I never got involved in student journalism. I had plenty to say but the effort of spitting it out was too much.
All this changed when I started to use computers. Once I didn’t have to make words on a page and I had a gizmo to correct my spelling, I found writing much easier. I was fortunate to enter the workplace just as word processors were replacing the longhand draft and the typing pool. It would still never have occurred to me to write anything I didn’t have to though. Having spent so long avoiding writing, it had become a habit. I did a master’s degree, got good marks and presented an academic paper to a conference but even that didn’t tempt me to start writing.
Eventually, technology intervened again and I discovered blogging. Here was a platform where I could just write stuff and see if anybody was interested in reading it. After a few tentative steps I got going and six years after starting this blog I ended up being given an award for it.
If you had told my 8-year-old self, or even my 18 or 28-year-old self for that matter, that I would one day be given an award for writing stuff they would have said you were mad. Sure, I had things to say but it simply would not have occurred to me to put any of them down on paper. Writing was something that other people did.
So I’m thankful for the invention of word processing, spell checkers and blogging. I’m glad that Editorial Intelligence decided to create an award for independent bloggers and I’m delighted to have won it.
I phoned my mum yesterday to tell her. She was pleased, as I knew she would be. Remembering the time when I had to be cajoled into putting pen to paper she said, “If your teachers could see you now….”