“It takes a lot of experience to be a writer.”

A young woman beside me on a flight to Moscow wrote intermittently on a small notebook. When I peeked over her shoulder I saw that she wrote in Russian alphabets, and the pages held clusters of sentences, boxes of words placed one page after the other. It took me a while, but I got around to speaking to her. She was good-looking, had a ready-smile, and in one-word, was attractive.

“Are you a writer?” I asked. “No,” she replied immediately. “I’m an illustrator. ” Then she added what sounded like “I’ve had some ideas for a long time, so I’m writing them down.” Seconds later, she said, “It takes a lot of experience to be a writer.” I replied with a hmmm, impressed by the elegance with which she conveyed her conviction.

We said nothing for a few hours. There was a second opportunity to speak with her, and I told her I had been thinking about what she said, about experience. I recall now that after the in-flight meal was served I said to her how stressful it was, sitting in a place for 8 hours, and she said we were going to be “broken” at the end of the flight. Her English was, in some way, effortless, yet spoken with what I thought were bursts of timidity, as if she was feeling her way through the language before uttering a word. When I said I’d been thinking of her thoughts on writing, she said, “oh, you don’t agree?” I said I wasn’t sure if I agreed or not, but I understood her point. We talked on, and I mentioned I’d been writing from early on in my life, but gained perspective as I grew older. Yes, she agreed, people shouldn’t call themselves writers until later in life, after at least 20 years of practice, when they had sufficient experience.

One thought on ““It takes a lot of experience to be a writer.””

Leave a Reply to E Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *