I hate reading.
For someone with the attention span of a goldfish, staring at a bunch of words on a page isn’t entertaining in the slightest. Every time I pick up a book, I’ll catch myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again, until I ultimately fall asleep.
I never thought of myself as a reader, so how could I ever become a writer?
This kept me from taking myself seriously as a writer for almost 16 years, since reading and writing are commonly associated with each other. I knew I loved to write — it was a way for me to easily express my emotions about the world around me.
The only reading and writing activity I would partake in was writing letters to people. Some classes I took in middle school and high school required us to write letters to our peers. Similarly, as a form of appreciation for each other, my friends and I would write to each other. Even the kids I was a camp counselor for wrote thank you letters. The only thing in common with all of these letters is that I still have them. I keep them in a giant manila envelope and will read them from time to time. Every time I do, I get the same rush of joy I had when I first received them.
The summer before I came to college, I started journaling as a way to maintain my mental health. Every night, I would sit up in my bed typing on a blank document, jotting down every detail of my day: what I wore, what I ate, what songs I listened to on repeat. Some of my entries would flow on for longer than a page. There was something so relaxing about writing, whether it was about how my day went or about an opinion I had. There was a joy attached to putting my thoughts on a page.
That same year, I decided to start publishing some pieces on a Wix site I had created, opening my work to the public on a whim. I didn’t share it with many people, since it was just for me to play around with. But, the more I wrote, the more I wanted others to read it. Again, I never thought of myself as a writer by trade, but scrolling through social media, I saw the recruiting advertisement for The Michigan Daily’s Michigan in Color section, and I became curious.
But the application was due in like, a week.
I opened the Google Form and let the tab sit on my computer window for hours. I would start filling out the form, and immediately erase my progress.
How could I write for a newspaper when I can’t even read a chapter book, and the only things I write are stupid opinions on a Wix site?
On the day the application was due, I stared at the Google Form one last time.
I started to type out my name, and then I slowly started to progress through the rest of the application form.
Closing my eyes, I hit “Submit.”
I nervously waited, frequently checking my email for the following couple of days, until I finally received the email about 3-4 days later, asking to be interviewed.
I love interviews, since I believe I can showcase my passion more clearly virtually than through writing. I got through the basic “why would you want to write for us” questions, and felt pretty confident, up until the very last question.
It was something along the lines of, “Who’s your favorite author, and/or what is your favorite piece by them and why?”
My brain froze. I couldn’t tell you the last book I read or the last author I’ve kept up with. I can’t even remember how I answered that question, but I can remember leaving the interview regretting all of my decisions to apply for this position.
I don’t read. So WHY on Earth did I think I could write for a newspaper of all things?
A couple of days went by and as I dreadfully looked through my inbox I read “Congratulations!” and almost spit out the coffee I was sipping on. The message was from the section’s managing editors and I was ecstatic that my writing was going to be read by a wider audience, but the nerves and doubt lingered.
As I went through my first editing session with the editors, copy and the editor in chief, that feeling got worse. My article document was covered in comments about my sentence structure, stylistic choices and other notes that tore my writing to shreds. However, as I resolved the edits, I felt as if I was gaining more and more momentum. I loved resolving them. With every resolution I felt my writing and confidence grow stronger. I was able to look at my own piece from a new angle. Everyday leading up to my next piece, I would scroll profusely through The Michigan Daily’s website and binge-read all of the latest pieces just to gain inspiration, and I was just having fun reading them.
It was a surreal feeling. I hadn’t felt this passionate about something since the first grade with music. Looking back, I’d like to think I just consume literature differently. Yes, I still despise reading chapter books and textbooks, but those letters people wrote to me in high school, articles from The Michigan Daily or other Wix sites people make just to post their own opinions I could read for hours on end. There’s no one way to consume media, and because of that, I now realize there’s no one way to become a good writer.
I’m truly humbled everytime I get to write about whatever I want on this platform and I’m even more grateful for the people that read my work and reach out about it. I don’t have the chance to reach out to those individuals that wrote me letters in middle school and high school and tell them how much their words resonate with me. So, to have people be able to connect with my writing and my emotions, even if they’ve never seen my face, is the most humbling feeling.
MiC Columnist Smarani Komanduri can be reached at email@example.com.