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Monday, June 17, 2013

To Write or Not......

 "Writing and Simplicity" Who Knew?
When I was young and in college I had many sleepless nights struggling in my writing classes. The floor was often littered with wadded up pieces of paper that were first drafts of many beginnings that never made it to the second line or paragraph! I just couldn't find my niche....and of course it didn't help that I had the professors from writing Hell to contend with!

 It seemed to me that there was nothing constructive on an essay you finished and handed in when it is returned with red slashes and scribbles of incoherent hogwash all over it and then you NEVER get the time to discuss it with the "Scribbler" himself.  I had almost lost hope where creative writing was concerned until my junior year when I met the most incredible woman. She was a retired English Lit Professor and often spent her days in the campus park writing in her journal. 

It must have been in the stars that we would find the same bench to sit on, me in tears over receiving yet another C- on my essay and her writing away in her journal! Our conversation started with her asking me "What's in your heart?" I turned and stared at this complete stranger with an expression of "Excuse Me" on my face and she just repeated the question. I had to think at that moment because my heart was the last thing on my mind. I responded with "frustration" and left it at that. Of course she pursued....Why? she asked. I explained to her that my writing skills were less than acceptable and no matter how hard I tried they
didn't seem to improve. Writing was not my major in school so I had started to feel that I would leave it at the C- and focus on other courses. She began to laugh....Quit over thinking it....write what you feel. She sat there for about an hour explaining to me that writing was like talking but with just a lot of bad punctuation and spelling! She didn't seem to think that talking was a problem for me, I'm embarrassed to admit it isn't...so why would writing be that difficult. 

We had lunch together for the next week while she kibitzed me about writing and even proof read some of my work.....not one red mark ever appeared! We laughed and talked about our lives, of course she had a few years of living on me but I was enthralled and amused by my new friend. My next assignment took me all of 1 hour to write and with a shaky hand turned it with no expectations. Two days later it was returned and I saw the BIG RED marks again...but this time they said "GOOD WORK MISS MANNING" I thoroughly enjoyed it!....and at the top of the page was a large perfectly sculpted "B+".

It doesn't matter if a person runs their sentences or their punctuation is off or a word here and there might be spelled wrong. What matters is the content, "What's in your heart"? I try to make my letters and stories come across as if I'm talking directly to the person. My vocabulary is okay, my punctuation is awful and often my sentences run off the page...but what does matter is....did I make you smile, was there a moment you were somewhere else? Happiness and contentment are what make a soul come alive and grow.....so I say lets show those "pearly whites" and write from "the heart"! Thank you Mrs. Elsie Graham for making my world a richer place because you added the magic!


Nancy said...

A wonderful story Pam...
Isn't it amazing what one person can do to change a perspective or thought into a success. My son had the same experience with one of his teachers and that teacher's influence helped mold what my son does for a living today!
Believing in yourself is everything!

Have a great week Pam!
Hugs, Nancy xo

Mary Ann said...

Lovely story:) I took a creative writing course a few years ago. It's all those grammar rules that kill me:(

Kays Kids said...

Teachers never know their power. It can take only a sentence and it can change a life.
My son was struggling at school. A science teacher encouraged him and he is now a very successful man. All because of one teacher.
I adore the way you write.

suz said...

how lucky you were. I had a great writing teacher my senior year of high school - it helped with my college writing and then when my son started to write. I suspect, having talked with her, that I'll have to teach his girlfriend - her teachers and parents were too concerned about grammar and structure - and not about content.

Deb Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

Awww, you were so lucky to meet such a wonderful and talented teacher Pam at that critical moment in your life. How many others have left their bliss, their passion behind because of red marks and negative comments? I love reading your writing and you always make me smile :O) Deb