I am not a writer.
Of course, the list of things I am not would easily fill this page. In small print. The list of what I do consider myself, that is, the list of skills in which I believe myself to be “accomplished” is quite short. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of that short list. I just wish it wasn’t so short.
One of my skills is fluency in American Sign Language. (Pausing here for the “oohs” and “aahs” that I assume must follow.) Is it less impressive when I explain that Interpreting is my career? I hope not. Because although I’m not a writer, if I were one, I would hope that finding out I was JK Rowling would not make my skill less impressive. (Ummm…. I’m not saying I’m as good an interpreter as JK is a writer, but… oh, never mind. Just read on.)
And, yes, I really wish I were JK Rowling. Both because I’d love to write with her skill and because I’d love to have her bank account. But a small voice inside me won’t let me stop there. Truly, if I envy her (and I do!) it’s because she came out of nowhere and left a mark – and SUCH a mark! – on the world. The whole world!!
When people see me signing with someone, the reaction I get most often is, “I wish I knew Sign Language.” When I was younger, I’d encourage these people. “It’s never too late!” “I know where you can take classes!” But their faces would cloud over. They didn’t really want to make an investment of any time into this; it was something they just wanted to add to their short list of accomplishments. Over the years I’ve come to hear their declarations with a jaded ear. Sometimes I’ll show someone a few signs but, if they can’t even drop their embarrassment long enough to lift their hands in a gesture of farewell, how can I believe they really wish they could sign?
This all came back to haunt me last night. You see, I had Sangria last night. Three plastic cups worth of it. At a Christmas Party. The party was unremarkable and the Sangria was nothing special. There couldn’t have been much alcohol in it, either, for me to down three whole cups and still manage to walk out the door under my own power. I even remember the drive home. (No, I wasn’t driving.) But when the effects wore off, at 3:13 am, I was wide awake. I started rummaging around on the internet and found myself reading random facts about Harry Potter. I really love those books. I love the movies, as well – I’m not a book-snob. Well, at least with those movies. Philip K. Dick was treated much worse when his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and his short story Minority Report were turned into movies. But I digress.
I wanted to know all the stupid facts about Harry Potter. Some of them were gleaned from interviews with JK that included information about Harry’s world after the last book had ended. For example, “After Fred’s death, George was never again able to produce a patronus.” That made me cry. Literally, crumble into a sobbing heap at my computer. Because I get it; George never again could come up with a truly happy memory that did not include Fred in it, which would make him too sad to produce a patronus.
Do you see what is happening here?
JK Rowling has taken a world that doesn’t exist and I know so much about it that I don’t even have to know the details of the fact to understand it. I don’t understand my own family as well. And I’m not the only reader to have that reaction. I’m sure of it. So are you. Even if you never read one of her books or saw a single movie (I can’t imagine who you are who can lay claim to that but, if you’re reading this and haven’t read that, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.)
I never really wanted to be a writer. I don’t even like to write. Writing makes me think about English classes. I always enjoyed reading, but not writing. I was an English literature major in college. Mostly because I thought, with literature, I could get away with doing lots of reading and that would get me a degree. Unfortunately, the professors wanted me to write about what I’d read. That seemed completely unfair. I read something that was written. Writing more about it must, therefore, be less than the original. And they’re going to grade me on it!
On the other hand, I do love a good narration. I sometimes narrate my own life. (I really hope I’m not the only one who does this, but I’ve never been brave enough to ask anyone.) For example, some of what I’ve written on these pages started as a narration in my head this morning at 3:something o’clock. When I woke up, my first thought was, “I’m no better than those uncommitted people who comment to me on a regular basis that they wish they knew Sign Language.”
So, today, I begin to write.