This is my post for the community blogging project which is still open til Sunday. Anyone wishing to enter [please do, the more, the merrier], please head over to this post.
This question has intrigued me ever since I saw it on Carol’s blog last year and rather than answer it then when I barely had 60 posts written I thought I’d keep it in mind and see if I notice any changes in me throughout the year. As the more regular readers of this blog know I took two long and several smaller breaks. This was both due to time constraints and having a complete writers block.
Having started learning English over 14 years ago and spending about five years of my life in English speaking countries, I would classify my spoken English as very good. I have no problems getting by, I’m picking up a variety of accents and I can understand pretty much everyone. Most Scottish people excluded. ;)
My written English however was way below average until about three years ago and I had been working in the UK for a good while and having to write emails/reports on a daily basis.
I do apologise, but I am about to digress even further!
I have always loved reading and started reading, well devour would be a better word, books when I was six and had just learned how to read. Over the years my collection grew more and more bringing it to about 800 in Germany and about 300 in the UK so far. That’s not to mention all the books I borrowed from friends, various libraries [I was a member of four libraries at some point!] or books I had to read for school. I had several friends who were similar and we were always talking about books, recommending them to each other.
One of those friends, let’s call her Eva, and I one day got to a point at which we thought we reached a dead end in books and had read most. In retrospective I can see how wrong we were, but when you’re 12-14 you obviously know best! We thought we would write our own books, stories, poems and anything else.
It all started off with a story involving a plane crash on a tropical island, the main characters Rick and Genevieve and how they had to survive. Think Castaway and Lost mixed together. We would both keep the book until we saw the other one again at which point we’d exchange it until next time. The story advanced so far that they were almost rescued. We never finished it. Turns out I was rather foolish and kept gambling with our friendship which meant for extended amount of times we didn’t have contact. But that’s for another time. ;)
In year seven and eight we had the best German teacher I can ever think of. His lessons were interesting and he got us involved in a lot of extracurricular projects, such as creating our own newspaper and writing several short stories. Those were my favourite lessons in that year.
Throughout the time I wrote more and more stories until I finally attempted writing a book again when I was around 19 years old. Within three months I had written about 150,000 words and even though it was still in it’s first draft I was very proud of it. A few weeks later I moved to the UK and even though I took the ancient laptop with me I never carried on writing.
Even though I’d love to continue writing it especially to see what happens to the characters the fact that I am not only exclusively thinking, but also writing and speaking English on a daily basis means that I am unable to carry on writing in German. My German is using English phrases translated literally, a different sentence structure and I simply cannot think creatively in German.
And that wasn’t possible in English either, as even though I have a fairly big vocabulary there are still so many words I don’t know and on average I’m learning three new words a day. In case anyone’s interested, one of the new words I learnt today was ameliorate.
Moving ever so swiftly back to the beginning of the post!
When I started blogging I didn’t feel comfortable writing creatively using English and German just wasn’t feasible. However I feel a lot more comfortable now and feel that I am closer being able to express myself the way I want to. Very recently I have started another story and I am debating translating my 150,000 word attempt into English and then continuing to write it.
To conclude, blogging has challenged me to concentrate on improving my English rather than simply stating that I cannot do it. I still have slight problems starting to write something [After the first paragraph I stared at the screen for about five minutes!], but once I’ve started I find it hard to stop. Just like you can see at the length of this post!