Who I Am, What I Do

I was the kid who got The Complete Works of Shakespeare for Christmas—and loved it!—and who was known by her youth group as a grammar stickler. Now I cringe at improper signage. How can you not cringe when you see Fresh” chicken, buy one get one “Free” at the grocery, or when you’re accosted by this gem at a seemingly innocuous pumpkin festival?

You should have to have a license to use quotation marks.

You should have to have a license to use quotation marks.

I often bite (or almost bite) my tongue to avoid correcting friends’ linguistic missteps mid-sentence; and I shaking uncontrollably when I’ve heard one too many nauseatingly vague clichés. Plus, semi-colons are one of my interests on my Facebook profile—and it’s not even a joke. So it’s no big surprise that I’m an editor.

I just returned from a trip to Arizona. (I highly recommend hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, by the way!) Along the way I met an engineer who’s been driving for a jeep tour for 9 years because he loves Sedona and driving off-road. My Grand Canyon hiking guide was formerly in medicine but now has two hiking and camping jobs and spends more nights in a tent than in his own home. He spent most of our four-day hike with a kid-at-Christmas look on his face: he’s doing something he loves, he’s in a place he loves. Our second night camping, I was sitting with my headlamp on, writing in my journal. Another woman on the trip commented that she was impressed by how diligently I wrote in my journal. My sister answered her, “That’s just what she does. She’s a writer.” And here’s me reading with a flashlight our tent in the dark: I do that too. In any habitat I’m a reader and a writer.

Doing what I do.

Doing what I do.

Some of us here at F+W were talking yesterday about how we wish we could turn it off, wishing we could tell that inner designer or editor to just take a nap so that we don’t get distracted by labyrinthine run-on sentences in emails from friends or unsightly character spacing on Bibles at church. But we can’t. It’s who we are; it’s what we do. That’s how we know we’re in the right spot. When you’re doing what you love and what you’re good at, you can’t turn it off, you can’t make it stop. (Of course I still try to be polite to the linguistically-challenged world out there.)

As a newcomer to publishing, I’m constantly in awe of how much better I feel about life when I’m doing what I love and what I’m good at. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs before this; one in particular was a life-sucking, soul-crushing, nightmare of a job—I’ll spare you the sob story. I finally realized language is what I love and that my life (and my job) need to follow that. I need to spend my time sculpting sentences and conveying ideas.

As much as I want to say “Find what you love and do that!” I realized on my trip that doing something a little uncharacteristic not only highlights who you are and what you love, but opens you to new things you just might love (or at least like) too. When I was preparing for my trip—4 days hiking the Grand Canyon, North Rim to South Rim—people would ask, “So, do you hike a lot?” I’d respond, “No, not really.” In fact I’m pretty indoorsy: I like controlled climates, soft beds, clean clothes, and not sweating. But after nearly 28 miles and 3 nights sleeping in a tent, I found I just might like hiking all day in the quiet and not looking in a mirror for days (although I’ll still probably never be a fan on tiny tents and 30-pound packs). I relearned myself as a reader and a writer. I relearned how I get to know people and how my sense of humor works. And I learned, that if given the chance, I can be kind of outdoorsy.

still bookish, but a bit outdoorsy.

The new me: still bookish, but a bit outdoorsy.


1 Response to “Who I Am, What I Do”

  1. 1 Westenra October 9, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I enjoyed your post!

    My pet grammar peeve is the misplaced apostrophe.

    My friends call me a Grammar Nazi in (what I hope) is a loving way. And my ability to sit and read in the midst of “excitement” stuns people who should know better. 🙂 I first read _Lolita_ in the midst of a party haha.

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