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Writing is a Perishable Skill

Updated on October 7, 2009

In a far away land a long time ago, there once was a boy who loved to read. He would spend hours at a time reading everything he could get his hands on while all the other boys were playing kickball or getting dirty. This boy only wanted to learn more about the world. He read fact-books and fiction too advanced for a younger mind, but although many things he read weren't fully understood they only served to fuel the never-ending fire and thirst for knowledge this boy had.

He had gotten hold of an invitation in his Mother's name to purchase encyclopedias. He filled it out, forged her signature, and mailed it off anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new treasure trove of knowledge. The first shipment arrived, and it was much to his Mother's dismay! She whipped him and sent him to his room, but did something that only a loving Mother would do. Even though the family wasn't well-to-do she wrote the sizable check to pay for the whole order and mailed it. With this gave the boy a stern warning that it was by no means a reward, and if he ever did anything like this would be unpleasant for awhile.

The boy was as happy as he could remember. Many evenings after dinner were spent reading those encyclopedias as though they were novels. Starting with the "A" and so on and so forth, those encyclopedias became just another well from which the boy could draw a drink for the mind.

Summers were spent at the library where his Mother would drop him off, and he would call her after several hours. He almost certainly had an armload of books to bring home, and did his best to read every word on every page as he learned about this and that. His friends certainly didn't care about terrariums and the Earth's core or dendrology and how to tan an animal hide, but these and more were the tips of the iceberg of this boy's interests. In fact, if it was written down, chances were that he would read it and try to learn about it.

By the time the boy entered high school the mountain of books from his reading list would probably compete with the Empire State Building in height if they were stacked upon one another. Funny thing was that the classroom never much interested the boy. Grades were just fair, but finally the Sophomore year came, and he was enrolled into the Creative Writing class that would show the boy something with the potential to be completely life-changing.

The teacher of the class, in addition to the Sophomores, had Junior and Senior grade levels as well. The Creative Writing program was an alternative program for some students. The class was also an automatic avenue to write for the school paper in various capacities, and during this time, the boy discovered that writing could be just as pleasing as reading books about fiction and science. He saw that writing had the potential to be so much more, and he couldn't wait for the next assignment to be handed out just so he could turn it in and see where improvement was needed. During the next three years the boy was quite prolific outside of classroom assignments. He had been given his Mother's old typewriter and would peck away creating various stories until she told him that he was keeping her awake, at which point he would switch to pen and paper.

Graduation day came, and the boy had received a scholarship to a nearby school. He continued to struggle with the discipline necessary to excel, and eventually fell in with the wrong crowd. He had unknowingly been looking for the wrong crowd in high school as well, so they easily found him during the evenings in college dorm rooms where boredom and mischievousness quickly took hold and dragged him down dark paths. Ultimately, it was all too much for the boy as bad influence trumped good, and he threw opportunity away in exchange for fleeting moments of happiness and escape.

With his scholarship gone and the boy now working to pay for school, he had little time to write or read. Time was made for fun, though, by gosh; that wouldn't be ignored! The people he was acquainted with grew up and moved on, and the boy slowly became a man. Ultimately he began to understand where he had gone wrong, but now he was knee-deep in life full on. He had found his way into a decent job with decent pay and enormous responsibility, and little time or mental energy remained at the end of the day for much else. After all, the wife and the family and the house all needed attention, and you only reap what you put in. The idea of writing just never really figured in, and had become equivalent to the little boy saying he wanted to be a Firefighter when he grew up never really knowing what a firefighter did.

Fast forward, and the man with too much responsibility suddenly finds that a bad economy has led to a lot of free time. The man, in his search for something to fill the time stumbles on a community of writers here at HubPages, and the flame is rekindled--that need to be heard, to learn, and revel in creative thought. He finds himself out of practice and humbled by obvious talents who share their creations with anyone who wishes to look. There is now a need to work and improve and revisit that heady time where the cares were fewer and the ideas greater.

Writing doesn't just happen; it is work, and the more effort taken to improve, the greater this man's chances become of finding as much enjoyment in it as he once did.


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    • arthurchappell profile image


      8 years ago from Manchester, England

      Excellent summary of a writer's life - indeed, if you don't write, your skills get rusty. You never forget how to swim, but writing is constantly having to be re-learned.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeffrey Neal 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      karmicfilly, thanks for stopping by!

    • karmicfilly profile image


      9 years ago from Franklin, TN

      Great story from life. I never wrote or read until around High school. Parents didn't realize I needed glasses and that was the reason I couldn't read well. It was so nice to be able to see that I made up for lost time. A voracious reader currently and enjoying this outlet myself also.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeffrey Neal 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      That's funny! I still have my set as well. Interesting that now with the internet, these books are like an old telegraph machine...not really necessary or as useful as the alternative, but they remind me of a good and simple time in life. Lately, they also spur me on just a little bit more to try to improve. Thanks for stopping by, AEvans!

    • AEvans profile image


      9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      mmmm..... I did the same thing when I was young and still have those old encyclopedias on a shelf. lololo Mom knew I had something she just didn't know what it was until today. :)

    • emievil profile image


      10 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub Jeffrey. Very interesting life you have. Maybe I can interview you and submit an article to Reader's Digest? :) got the idea from Mighty Mom. I'm glad that your journey led you to hubpages. Welcome, have fun and good luck :).

    • Jeffrey Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeffrey Neal 

      10 years ago from Tennessee

      Hmm, MM, I will have to think on that one as I'm not sure :-)

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      10 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Even though this is the Readers Digest condensed version of your life, it's got a lot packed into it! I could definitely relate to being a kid loving to read and research.

      So glad you found your way here to HP. If writing is a perishable skill, does that make us a giant refrigerator:-)?

    • Jeffrey Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeffrey Neal 

      10 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you, alekhouse. I appreciate your vote of confidence.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      10 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      This is good, Jeffery. I've been writing on hubpages for only five months and feel that my writing skills are improving continually. Really enjoyed your hub and have decided to become a fan.

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 

      10 years ago

      If only we had more time in a day ;)

    • Jeffrey Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeffrey Neal 

      10 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks broussardleslie! Drawing is another one of those perishable skills that I used to have. I guess creativity needs multiple outlets, and we can choose to enhance those...if we take the time.

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 

      10 years ago

      I agree with you wholeheartedly! Writing IS a perishable skill and must be worked at. I've found that the more I force myself to write, the easier it is. I've also discovered other creative talents through the process like drawing, embroidery and just an overall improvement in my imagination.

      Thank you for writing this hub; it helps to know that someone else also has to work to improve their writing :)


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