Thursday, March 29, 2012

Childhood Moments and Writing

Last night I read Stephen King's On Writing. Well, half of it, and a bit of the second half.  It a good and quick read and the first half of the book is all about his life growing up. It goes into the people in his life that shaped his thinking and supported his writing at a very early age. I don't feel like I had the same support as a child.  His mother pushed and encouraged him to nurture his desire to write. I didn't have that. But it did get me thinking about my childhood and the moments that stick out in my mind.

I wrote, but never thought it was something I would be doing. I remember the first picture book I made at a very early age, I must have been 7 or 8. I remember the pictures I drew, very vividly. They were stick figures, but the man had a pick ax and he was digging his way to a disastrous end. On the other end, unbeknownst to him was a terrible monster. The reader knew, the reader knew what was going to happen. The interesting thing was seeing the man's reaction when he found out.

One other time in early eighth or ninth grade I remember writing an essay about the greatest football game ever. I had spent the weeks prior at the town library reading about the history of the NFL. I truly enjoyed reading about it. My essay was about how the 1932 NFL Playoff Game between the Chicago bears and the Portsmouth Spartans was the greatest football game ever played. It's arguable to me know whether or not it was the greatest game. Regardless there are two reasons why this paper sticks out in my head. I vaguely remember the first line in the paper.  My aunt had given me a typewriter and I was eager to use it. I was proud that I was turning in a typed piece to my teacher. The first paragraph ended by talking about how the greatest games are those that "unearth unexpected heroes and forever legends of the game." I went on to describe what criteria I had for deciding what the greatest game was. It was a well written essay and I was really proud of it.

I showed it to my uncle (husband of a different aunt) and he read it. He was one of the few people in my home life who spoke and read English. He gave me a look and then looked back at the paper and asked "did you write this?"

I said "yes". But I could see he was skeptical. He said it was good. Even though I don't think he wholly believed I wrote it myself.  It was a good feeling. I knew it was good and someone agreed.

I turned it in to my English teacher and didn't hear about it for a week or so. I hated English. I hated the teacher. A week or so later, she made copies of my paper for the entire class and used it as the stellar example of what a good essay is. She read from it out loud and pointed out how I had a great command of the language and paragraph structure. It was great. I felt really good. I wish I had used that as a springboard to cultivate my skill more. I didn't and I regret it now.

I have so much to make up for at a time in my life when I have very little time to work with. I will persevere.

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