Thursday, March 1, 2012

     I have very few memories of writing in Elementary School.  I do remember having an idea for a character that a girl plagiarized and got in big trouble for copying my work.  In high school I remember a research paper that was not a fun experience.  It fostered ill feelings about writing that lasted for a long time.   In college, I tested out of freshman writing.  At that time I was a business major and it was not required. Every paper I wrote was a major pain.  My last year after I became an elementary education major, I got to fulfill my writing requirement.  It certainly would have helped  to have taken it earlier.  I finally learned how to write a paper.  Until then I worked really hard trying to find classes that did not have papers required.

          My first positive journal writing experience was in a speech class where the professor wrote back to me in the journal.  For the first time writing became an almost therapeutic experience.  Today I consider myself to be more of a receiver than a transmitter.  I love to read.  It is my relaxation and one of my most loved passions.
I'm not sure writing will ever come close to that experience.  Writing is such an intimidating thing for me.  My beliefs on paper, where some subtle word choice can misconstrue my meaning.  My hour long drive is my outlet to pontificate my thoughts.  But there I can have those feelings and not have to justify them.  I work through them and move on.  Words on paper don't disappear that easily.

          In one of my favorite books, Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter,  the new teacher enters the one room school and impresses her students with her sparkling vocabulary.  Little Sister, the main character, has an older sister that says if she can spell half the words she said that she will be the best teacher they have ever had.  This leads Little Sister to wonder how many people can spell the words they use.  From the two times I got out the dictionary to write here, I realize my vocabulary over reaches my spelling skills.  Language mechanics are the thorn in my mental paw.  Somewhere along the line they became what writing is to me.  That might be where I lost some of the joy of writing.


  1. Mark,
    Thank you for writing this. I'm not sure what to say, because I'm in awe by your genuine words and the way it flows together. These lines:

    "I work through them and move on. Words on paper don't disappear that easily,"

    and this one:

    " Language mechanics are the thorn in my mental paw. Somewhere along the line they became what writing is to me. That might be where I lost some of the joy of writing"

    are powerful.

    I'm glad you're writing,

  2. Mark, I am so glad that I clicked on your post. You are a very powerful writer and thank you for sharing. I know how difficult it is for my husband and son to write and share (is it a "man" thing?), but the more you write, the easier it will become. This is my first year participating in the SOL and I needed much encouragement from my daughter who participated last year. The first two days have been absolutely great, especially when the comments are written. Keep writing and sharing!

  3. I have for so long, disagreed with how writing was "Taught". We pay so much attention to the mechanics that we forget the power of having a voice! Thanks for reminding me to pay more attention to the what is said.....

  4. Echoing what Deb said.

    I was working with teachers last week who were saying things like, "I like the topic sentence" and "It's good, but the paragraph needs three detail sentences and he only has two." Why are we teaching writing to be so formulaic? No wonder children aren't enjoying the writing process when it's taught in a vacuum. Good writing has voice (and much more, but I don't want to go on and on and on as a mere commenter).

  5. As a teacher, this is always my greatest worry: that the mechanics of "proper writing" will drive out the writer in my students. I'm sorry that happened to you. What I try to instill in my students is a love of stories, and writing for the self more than for the teacher. Sometimes, I think I am successful. Other times, maybe not so much.
    I'm glad you are writing here, though.

  6. I'm excited that you are taking the plunge and putting words on paper (electronic paper?)--even though it does feel like a big risk. Keep going--what you have to say is worth it!

  7. The joy of writing returns when you have an audience that talks to you about what was great or enjoyed in the writing. That pushes you to create the next piece, then the next, then you find yourself addicted to the comments, so you write and write.
    When I need to check spelling, I don't use a dictionary any more, I open Word, type my word and see if I get a red line.

  8. It's a beautifully told telling of your story, and maybe since you joined this challenge, you're ready for the next one, or maybe not, but the learning won't stop. There are so many rules bandied about out there to stop people from crossing the line, for who knows what reason! I hope you have fun here! I'll look for your next piece!