10 May

Those Who Paved the Way

Posted in Teaching, Writing

Today I’m going to deviate a little from my blogging schedule because I have something on my mind.

On Saturday, I attended a huge celebration commemorating my school’s 125th anniversary.  I went to this school for eleven years–from second grade through senior year–and in many ways, this school has shaped who I have become as a writer and as a person.

Perhaps the thing that most impacted me at Saturday’s event was that I ran into my eleventh grade creative writing teacher.  While my eleven years at that school taught me to write, it was Ms. T’s creative writing class that made me into a writer.

Looking back, there wasn’t a lot of craft or deep analysis involved in that class.  Instead, there was acceptance, encouragement and permission to take risks, all of which came through in Ms. T’s calm and nurturing demeanor.  In college, when I took my second creative writing course, I was so used to this creative freedom that I had no problem taking plenty of risks and writing things that were a bit… unconventional.  Unfortunately, my professor and classmates did have a problem with this and that semester every ounce of creativity got squelched out of me.

For years, I didn’t touch pen to page.

But slowly, Ms. T’s docile voice started talking to me from the back of my memories.  “Don’t worry what comes out.  Just write,” she’d say.  And that’s what I did.  Ms. T’s quiet insistence saved me when I went through that period of creative drought. Wwhen I saw Ms. T on Saturday, I gave her a huge hug and told her that I’ve always remembered everything she taught me and that it’s made me the writer I am now.

Her bashful reply was a quiet: “Oh dear” followed by a smile.

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