The turning of a new year often makes us look back to evaluate what we've done, and then look forward to what we hope to do. This holiday season gave me an opportunity to dig up some of my childhood memorabilia. Among the many paper artifacts of my youth (both handwritten and typed on ancient manual typewriters) was this pencil-scrawled letter from August 3, 1965, when I was eight years old and away at summer camp in Connecticut. I reproduce it here exactly as it was written:
I glad I Finall got to wright to you. I having a great time. Were going on a sleep-out tonight. All sleep-outs we go out on it rains. We alway's go out on trips but somthing alway's goes wrong. Please send me a letter!!
My almost-100-year-old father likes to tell a joke about the stranger in New York City who asks an old Jewish guy on the street, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" And the guy says, "Practice, practice."
Let's just say I've come a long way since composing that semiliterate missive, thanks to some excellent teachers, lots of reading, and the word "autodidact." As the title of this post indicates, writers are made, not born.