Growing up with two older brothers has always made me competitive. I am the youngest of three, and so I was always the last one to learn a new skill, such as reading and writing. My parents used to say, “Slow and steady wins the race.”, however, this certainly wasn’t an approach that I bought into – I used to read and write as much as I could, as fast as I could, just so that I could try and be on the same level as my brothers. I felt a real sense of pride when I could finally write in joined up handwriting, just like my brothers could, and I could read the books that they could too. This was true for the first couple of years anyway.
I remember that every week when I was younger, a library bus would come around and visit my little neighbourhood. I would always go and visit it with my mum and collect books to read. Most of the books that I read were simple fiction, however, I was a big tomboy when I was little, so I read a lot of my brothers’ action novel hand-me-downs as well. Interestingly enough, I also used to love comics. I would cycle about 30 minutes into the nearest village with a corner store every Sunday and buy the Beano or the Dandy to read. I used to read every night before I went to bed, however, sometimes, they wore me out a little too much and I read and slept simultaneously (ft picture of me).
As I went through primary school, my approach to reading and writing certainly changed. Reading continued to be enjoyable, but writing started to become a nuisance. I have just never liked writing essays, or longer pieces of writing. When reading what my classmates had produced, I never found that my ideas were as impressive or my stories as cohesive. Other people read more complicated books than I did, so they always had better vocabulary and instead of being inspired by my peers, I felt discouraged from writing at all. This trend continued, and I just started to dislike creative writing more and more.
At the end of primary school, I had to take an entrance exam to join a grammar school. I always loathed the writing part. I would say that I have a good grip of grammar, as I have studied foreign languages and picked up a lot of grammar from there, however, the free writing was always my least favourite, and my worst section. Preparing for that was the only real homework I had in primary school, but it would cause me such difficulty and I would end up crying with my mum for ages, frustrated by my writing, and disappointed with the work that I produced. Although I passed the exam, the English section was by far my lowest grade. The trend has been constant since then.
My dislike for creative writing continued through grammar school. Any subject that involved writing long passages was automatically my least favourite. I was also introduced to analysing text in my English classes, and this just cemented my dislike for the subject. I did well in the classes, because I learnt to write what the teacher wanted to read, however, I never really believed in the observations that I made, and so I never enjoyed the classes. In fact, the only aspect of English that I have ever really enjoyed has been public speaking or writing speeches. I like the factual nature, and the lack of creativity required.
I can’t really explain why I have been so bad at creative writing, because in other ways I am very creative. For example, I have always been really into art, despite my entire family being very artistically challenged. There was even a time when I would enjoy writing poems, and I used to send them as birthday and Christmas presents. They are still littered around my house, and some of them aren’t half bad.
Unfortunately, secondary school was also where my reading went downhill. I started having homework for the first time, and suddenly reading became less of a priority for me. Sports, homework, friends, and sleeping took over. I used to read on the bus to school, but even this was replaced when I got my first iPod. Eventually, I only read through obligation. This, in turn, became a downwards spiral for all of my reading, because I didn’t like being forced to read, or indeed the books that we read, and this put me off reading even more. Even though I’m sure I could’ve enjoyed some of the books that we studied, the over analysation meant that I hated them and discouraged me from reading more.
I actively avoided writing/ reading heavy subjects for A levels (we only had to study 3 subjects for the last two years of school). Only essays I have ever been good at are Economics essays. Follow logical chains of analysis. Very factual. History I was good at, but I hated, I never knew what to include. Even at Emory, writing research papers and responses papers in political science last semester was a nightmare, I have never stressed about a subject so much in my life. My grades were okay, and they improved throughout the semester as my style improved, but I would always put off writing the essays. It is a different style of writing in the US, but I still dislike it.
Never found a purpose for writing/ reading. There are things that I enjoy more to relax, I watch videos to become more educated, or watch films to be entertained. Out for a habit, and because I don’t have a purpose for it, it is harder to justify integrating reading back into my schedule. The only reading I do anymore is textbooks, online news articles, and occasionally a magazine. I would like to become more engaged with reading and writing again in the future, however, I will certainly have to change some bad habits. I was certainly dreading this English class, and I am not looking forward to the continued writing classes that I will have to take in the future, however, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed this class so far.