Monday, May 17, 2010

Shyness and Writing

When I was young I found that writing was the very best way I could express myself. I was painfully shy; scared of strangers, the telephone, crowds, new situations, you name it. I hardly spoke at all to people I didn't know well. I really believe this is what started my writing journey.

For many years, I faithfully kept a journal as a teenager. It has been fun, recently, to revisit these journals and rediscover my teen-aged self. It was much less embarrassing than I feared it would be. I read one entry that spoke of being complimented by a high school English teacher, who said I expressed myself well in writing. I wrote in my journal that I wanted to become a writer when I grew up.

After graduating high school, I went to BYU, where I majored in English. I had this idea that someone had to give you permission to be a writer, and I hoped that by earning a degree in English, I would have that permission. I loved all the classes I took, from English literature to creative writing.

Fast forward a few years. I did the unthinkable and served an LDS mission. To this day, I can't believe, as shy as I was, that I actually did it, but it has been a tremendous blessing in my life. One thing it forced me to do was talk to people--even people I didn't know. For 19 months (I extended) I actually talked to strangers on a regular basis--and survived! I didn't melt, throw up, pass out or die. I found I could actually talk to strangers and verbally express my thoughts. I was, however, still a faithful journal keeper on my mission.

After my mission, my main focus was marriage and motherhood preparation. So, I went back to BYU and changed my major to Human Development. I learned some very valuable skills that I have been able to use as a parent. I met my husband before I graduated, and decided to quit school and get on with the business of marriage and raising a family.

22 years and seven children later, I find myself with a little bit of quiet time during the day. When my children grew old enough to begin serving missions (last December), I re-read my mission journals and felt a burning desire to write my mission memoirs. I started a few times, switching from first person to third person, and from memoir to fiction. Maybe, I thought, I need a little writing refresher course to figure some of these things out. I found a community class offered by UVU. Turns out, the class was designed mostly for writers of fiction, and my memoir plan didn't seem to fit too well with that. I came up with an idea for a novel, and have been working on it ever since.

Now, back to the shyness issue. I learned on my mission to put myself out there, to speak to people in spite of feeling shy. But, it is still not my nature to be outgoing. Deep down inside, I'm still the shy little girl who doesn't like to talk to strangers. And, maybe that's good, because it means that my best method of communication is still writing. I can save the other skills for promoting my book, right?

1 comment:

  1. That's a great story. Thanks for sharing it. It's nice that you found a voice through writing, and good job serving a mission despite your shyness.