Monday, October 29, 2007

Story Maker

I have since the beginning of time wanted to be a writer. I do not know a memory where this thought did not exist. Yet I have never ever acted upon it. I was always a little hinky about writing my stories down. I thought they were stupid, boring or uninteresting. That I have not lived the life of a Hemingway or Steinbeck. That my world is rather myopic and disturbingly dull in comparison to Sylvia (Plath) or Hosseini.

And let's face it, I am not the most swift of writers - I am wordy, verbose, terrible at sentence structure and description and I cannot spell worth a damn. I have always thought that 'one day...' or 'a long time from now when I have some life under my belt', I will sit down and write. That day has yet to happen. I also sort of lost my lust for it because of one simple class, one inexplicably mean teach...

In high school, I took 5th period Creative Writing my Senior year. I completed the requirements to get me into a sub par CA state college, so I figured I would take things I actually liked such as creative writing. I will never forget the class. It kicked ass and it kicked my ass. I loved that we were totally a motley crew. Tina was the heavy metal rocker that sat next me - she was a beautiful girl with ratted hair and big bangs (it was 1991, give us a break...), dark eye liner and worn concert t's and an acid washed jean jacket. We knew each other like everyone in HS knows one another - we were in the same year and had friends that ran in similar circles. She and I were always friendly and we realized as we sat together how much in common we truly had. Tina was awesome. She would always encourage me to write and would critique everything I wrote with a solemn face and a kind word. She was funny and really very smart - something one would not expect from the hard rocker chick. There were other characters in the class - the goth girl, the nerdy kid, and the popular dude. None really compared to Tina, of course. Also, this girl could write. Well. Like the way I dreamed of writing!

Then there was Mrs. Dudley. At the time, to me, she was a shrew. With her big dull brown hair, her flat lifeless dresses that somehow made her butt seem even flatter than it likely was (shudder), her bulbous eyes and snarky comments... She was mean spirited and it is one thing to be a helpful critic; to want the work to be original and thoughtful and perhaps have some realistic virtue. It is quite another thing to berate someone in front of the class for writing something you do not agree with and DAMMIT it was an elective course so who cares, really?! To me writing was and still is a way for people to communicate, fiction or non fiction. Whether those stories and the people in those stories are made up or not... Needless to say, Mrs. Dudley did not "take me under her wing".

In fact, she hated Tina and I. She would regularly harp on our work and friendship. She told me a poem that I wrote was unrealistic and essentially stupid. It remains one of the things I have written in my life that I am proud of, oddly. I was so excited for this class and had waited FOUR long years to take it and this woman took the wind out of my sails - it became more dreaded than 4th period Math and 3rd period French (hmm, what did I like in HS you ask? Mmm, mostly nothing...)

It also sort of destroyed a part of me that liked writing. The fun of it... I have written from time to time over the years. Little snippets but two tours of duty in college and a life time of happenings always seemed to interrupt writing. Plus I always thought of Mrs. Dudley when I would start to write. Her evil words of criticism... "you do not even own a '57 Chevy... how can you write about it?" That in particular echoes in my head and makes me think I better damn well write about things I know but the truth is most of what I think about writing is stuff I do not know. Also, when I suggested to my parents that I wanted to major in English, they laughed so I did not... I was a weakling, what can I say?!?!

When I think about writing, I would write about the interesting silly stories I make up in my mind. The mini movies that play in my head that I urgently want to put down on paper but keep in my head for days at a time. I do not really need to read because I could keep myself entertained for days with these epic stories that play in my head. I used to think it was bizarre that I could do this but I am learning that is just part of what makes me want to be a "writer". I do not want to write because I want to be JK Rowling famous (or rich). I just want to write to do it - to enjoy it and to become better at it. To put those movies down on paper because I think they are interesting even if no one else does.

And lately I have been coming closer to writing again. I am calmer than I have been in years. I am able to sit quietly and not feel the pull to go get something else done. My time is precious but I can see myself devoting some of that precious time to writing again. I had my 1st ever acupuncture appointment this part Saturday. It was the most mind blowing amazing thing I have done in a long time! I laid there calmly relaxed, warmed by the lamp, thinking about nothing. And from that nothingness came so many stories. It was like some calming acid trip... I hope in the coming months and years, I can quell the nasal voice of Mrs. Dudley and her criticism and move beyond that to writing again. Just for the thrill of writing even if it is about a '57 Chevy that I still do not own!


Tessie said...

It's amazing the good and BAD effect teachers can have. BR had an English teacher who convinced him in HS that he was a terrible writer, an opinion he holds to this day (He's NOT a bad writer).

Welcome to our World said...

yes, it is amazing. I never had one of those inspiring teachers that people talk about. I had a few that were encouraging like a junior high school history teacher that fostered a serious love of history on my part but no one that I am like OH wow that person changed the course of my life. Granted I was probably the most frustrating student on earth but still!