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On Writing

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ashley kolpak

Self-consciously, I sip some water and glance hopefully across the table. Nervous as can be, I rattle off carefully reasoned responses to a myriad of questions. Sitting in a job interview, what more can you do? The interviewer then surprises me with a question I haven’t heard in quite some time. He takes a breath in and inquires, “So, why do you like to write?”

Simple enough question. My resume is full of odds-and-ends writing gigs, volunteer and professional. For a question so brief, it felt oddly personal. I took a beat, perhaps a few, and started, admittedly less polished than before, “Um,” I looked up, hoping for a little inspiration. “It’s just...it’s a forever thing. It’s just something I’ve always loved to do. It’s my passion....I’ve always loved writing.”

My short, staccato, nearly childlike answers probably weren’t the most articulate I’ve spoken in an interview. However, they spoke volumes about me; not just the business-casual clad person sitting in the chair, but the real me (to be delightfully melodramatic).

It’s the sort of question that reminds me how I first proclaimed to my teacher in third grade that yes, I would be a writer. I think back to junior high and high school where I honed my passion; to different writing opportunities in college and beyond. I’ve been enthralled with it all, from creating five-paragraph essays to writing news features.

Also, a conversation from a few years back comes to mind. I was in the midst of the post-collegiate job search and reached out to a former teacher, more to catch up than anything. He said something to me so simple yet so incredibly powerful. I was chatting about some jobs on the horizon, this and that. He patiently listened to me ramble on, but eventually stopped me short. He looked right at me and said nonchalantly, “Ok. These things all sound fine, but...you’re a writer.”

I doubt he realized that what he said mean the world to me. Like I said, I’ve always loved to write. But being a writer, embodying the noun rather than performing the verb, isn’t often how I would describe myself. He said it without a shred of doubt. “You’re a writer.” And from that day forward, I strived to feel that way. I strive to be a writer.

What he said was just a small thing, a bit of pithy prose. But it encouraged me, encouraged me to find faith in myself. That it doesn’t matter how good (or not so good) my writing is. All that matters is that I continue to write.

“Good, good,” the interviewer speaks up, snapping me back to reality. I continue; I delineate my writing experience, my other work endeavors. The rest of the chat goes swimmingly, peppered with other thoughtful questions and standard interview fare. I leave the office with my mind racing, still thinking of that question. I love to write for so many reasons. The answers all seem to stem from my earliest memories: I adore words. I’m enamored with metaphor and how language can be transformed so subtly. I’m entranced that with just a simple sentence, I can share what I think, feel, know and want to learn. It’s love. Pure and simple.

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