The Journey from Doodler to Writer
It would probably come as a great surprise to my elementary or middle school teachers that I fell in love with writing, much less learning itself. I was always of a curious nature, but generally not in a way that worked well with staying in one’s seat or working without talking. It probably didn’t help that, as a kid, I also pretty much hated reading. What changed much of this for me was when I fell in love with words.
As a kid I loved drawing and spent hours creating monsters and rockets and silly cartoon versions of myself and my friends. I probably would have happily spent the rest of my life doodling but in junior high I quickly discovered that girls weren’t particularly interested in drawings of monsters or rockets and thus began to experiment with putting thoughts to words. Thankfully most of those experiments in writing have long vanished, but that was the beginning of my infatuation with words and writing.
This infatuation blossomed during my Sophomore year of high school when I became a Christian and I began to read the Bible. Prior to this I rarely read anything longer than the instructions that came with beginner model kits (and even then I never really read the instructions). So, somewhat to the consternation of my friends and family, I totally became immersed in reading the Bible in as many different translations as I could afford. Spending time trying to understand the King James’ Elizabethan English opened my eyes to the fluidity and power of language and words in a way that I’d never appreciated before. I became thirsty to understand and learn more and more. All the adolescent insecurities of not knowing ones self found much needed reassurance and security in stories and passages from a time two-thousand years in the past. Thus I went from being a mostly non-reading “C” student in elementary school to becoming a motivated “A” student in college and graduate school.
My relationship with technology was equally circuitous. Simply put, in the early 80’s personal technology was becoming a reality for any working slob and I was looking for an easier way to do my writing. At this time I had also begun what I thought of as a temporary job for the phone company (a temporary job that lasted for 15-years!). I found myself, an artist, among technologists. But I did well because I was a quick study and the job enabled me to begin my long relationship buying technology.
I remember stopping into a computer store in some mall shortly after the original IBM PC was introduced and when the sales person approached me I thought that there was no way that I could afford to buy one of these things and walked away. Ha! One income tax return later and I was spending every waking hour drooling over every bit of information that I could get about these things. My brother, who was more familiar with small computers, steered me away from the newly introduce Macintosh and IBM’s offering. I was soon the proud owner of a 35-pound Kaypro transportable computer with it’s 9-inch green screen, 5-1/2-inch floppy disks and 67K of RAM. As rudimentary as this machine was, I couldn’t imagine how I wrote papers or did any writing before getting my “little” green-screen friend.
Circuitous route number three: Teaching; Teaching was an idea that I toyed with after completing my first B.A. in Biblical Studies but couldn’t settle on a subject to teach, so I went back to school and began studying for a Master of Theology at Fuller Seminary. When my marriage fell apart, taking with it my aspirations for full time ministry, I began a second B.A. in Communications/Journalism. By the time I finished this program I couldn’t imagine a day without writing but was also convinced that I had no need to endure the egos or small-minded ambitions I’d encountered during my student newsroom experience from editors barely out of their teenage years wanting to make a name for themselves (Go CSUF Titans!). Somehow that decision led back to a second look at a teaching career, by which time I’d also figured out that I didn’t need to decide on a subject matter if I taught in a multi-subject elementary classroom… doh! And because my path to teaching had meandered through lots of different paths I didn’t realize that no one else used technology the way I had when I began teaching. I just did what made sense to me. Thus, I became the technology teacher. That switch led to specialist positions creating a video-journalism academy, then computer-lab teaching assignments and eventually teaching online at Full Sail University.So, somehow after so many years into this journey, the technology and the teaching and my love of writing seem to be coming together. And to think, in the beginning all I wanted to do was find a better way to do my writing.