The other day Morgan, my 2 1/2 year old daughter, demanded that I stop writing. We were working on a construction paper thank you card, and she was "writing" inside--one long line with bumps and loops for letters. I, meanwhile, was writing a little message to her Aunt to slip inside. Morgan noticed the disparity of her writing and my writing and threw down her marker. "Mama no write." I felt us pulling toward tantrum, and suddenly remembered my biggest fears when I was 3 years old: 1) I would never learn to read 2.) I would never learn to write 3.) I would never learn to drive a car. As a small child I saw these things as the essential difference between myself and the grown ups around me: language and transportation were what made grown up people powerful.
I suddenly felt like I was flaunting my ability to write. Of course it must be frustrating that her words and my words look so different. I stopped "grown up writing" for a few minutes and started writing like she was. I told her how frustrated I was when I didn't know how to read or write. She calmed down and started writing again. I eventually finished my little note. But I think I saw her face flicker with recognition that I understood why she was upset.
Here's the thing: for some of us that fear of never being able to write maintains a presence all of our lives. The frustration of not doing it right makes us write sentences every week, erase, write them over, better, and we do it again and again. Our words take the shape of stories, poems, essays, blogs. While we may have broken the code of language as children, we continue to manipulate language to bring out our highest selves...and our lowest selves; to grapple with whatever corner of the universe we happen to inhabit. We still never know if we're doing it right. Writing can feel like one long scribble on a blank page. However, even a scribble gives a blank page meaning, making the writer feel a little less intimidated by the blank page and a little more empowered.
A car helps too.