Niki was right. These wouldn’t be challenges if I weren’t challenged. I’m behind already in the posting of this blog and others. There’s a reason.
Writers don’t just write. Their job prep isn’t just a shower and makeup and a drive to the city. The prep work starts in the heart, the emotions, the pain, the baggage. (The run-on sentences) The work starts in the unraveling of a mystery, a hurt, or a memory.
Do you want to love on a writer friend? You know that scab healing on your arm from pulling the pie out of the oven? Rip it off! Relentlessly! Do you remember when you stubbed your pinky toe in the middle of the night on the 10lb metal weight left in the middle of the room? When you couldn’t scream because there were people around, or asleep? When you really wanted to lose your religion and drop a verbal bomb? Know this is what they go through when they write, especially memoir. There’s a little bit of themselves in each of their characters. Dark moments. Painful moments. It’s how they “Show, don’t tell”..
When I decided to write for this challenge I knew it would be like ripping of the proverbial scab. Why? I had no favorite teacher. I had a goofball brother two grades ahead of me. Teachers saw the last name and would treat me accordingly. I couldn’t write cursive in the third grade. I couldn’t do long division in the fourth grade. I suspect, neither could he, though I can’t ask him now.
Fifth grade, however, was the extreme. Lawrence Elementary. Mrs. McKay. I believe that was her name. Not a nice woman. I wonder where she is now? I wonder if she was nice to the smart kids? I don’t remember. I do remember her calling me out a few times for what I didn’t know. Timed math facts were not my friends. In fact, I don’t remember having a friend in 5th grade, only my brother and the neighbor kid, Mitch. I wonder if she was as tall as I remember? Unfortunately, she began a long list of teachers who didn’t know me, understand me, put me in a box.
Not until I went to college the second time did I find my FAVORITE teacher. (I’ll talk about the first time on the next blog: Best friend from childhood/high school/college) My accounting teacher was my favorite teacher. Go figure, the girl who hated math all her life went back to school to be an accountant. What she found out about herself (weird creep third person point of view I just changed too, right?) was as long as the subject was made interesting, was compared to real life, then I/she developed a love of learning. This guy did that. He was an accounting teacher, teaching in a community college at night, but had his own computer programming business during the day, writing accounting software. He would explain why this formula meant this or that. He explained what a client would do with this spreadsheet. Numbers meant something to him. Then he would tell his students about how he would program that formula. For the first time in my life, I was soaking up every word, taking copious notes.
I found out that year, with a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights, I am smart. I just learn differently. I don’t data dump. I don’t memorize. I absorb. I churn. I apply. I lose my place, because I’m doing that while in lecture. J
Thinking back on that time, as great as that seems, there were other self-discoveries those years. Not so nice discoveries. Hard times. A late bloomer really. But I can look back on those times and realize that I have a child at home just like me. A different learner. He’s smart. He has potential. He has a teacher that knows, understands.
Don at donhillson.wordpress.com
Beckie at free2b2much.blogspot.com