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Culprit Caught

The poet came to our school and took us for a nature walk. He showed us leaves that we could pluck from plants along the lake’s edge and eat. Back in the classroom he sat us down and read his poetry. The teacher told us to write haiku too. She picked her favorites and gave them to the local paper (click on the image to read).

For the first time, my name in print.

Was this to blame for infecting me with pipe dreams? Was this what threw pies in sky that distracted me from practical work? Was this the first step to forgetting to keep my feet on the ground?

Probably not. But it sure was exciting.

What were your writing experiences in school? Did school inspire your writing dream or hold it back?

15 thoughts on “Culprit Caught

  1. It wasn’t until I got to high school that the writing thing really kicked in. My freshman English teacher was at our school for only a year but gave me a LOT of encouragement when I tried crazy little things like book reports rendered in the put-on voice of a stuffy critic. I stayed in touch with her by mail for about a year after she left, and then both of us got swallowed up by daily life a couple states apart.

    (Never been able to locate her online, but I do think of her every now and then.)

    I had the great good luck to attend a fairly small high school, in a mostly blue-collar town. Which meant wanting to be a writer, and being not-bad at writing, seemed like major accomplishments. Man, what a shock it was to go to college and find dozens of people who could write rings around me — and those were just the people I knew. Lord knows how many others were holed up in garretts and library nooks.

    • I can’t recall my high school making feel I was good at anything. But that may have been mostly my own fault. So college was no surprise.

  2. I’m with JES on this; I wrote little stuff, silly stories and such, starting in about sixth grade. In high school the writing bug bit hard and deep and I’ve done it on and off ever since. Not well, but I’ve done it.

    School didn’t hold me back in any way, but I wish I’d focused on more writing-centric classes and maybe did something in college with it. I don’t think an English Lit degree is what I wanted; a degree in straight English — complete with grammar and structure and etymology and such — is more my speed. Diagramming sentences? OH BABY. That’s what I’M talkin’ about.

    Alas, the road not taken. Oh well. Here I am in my mid-forties still trying to figure it all out and decide what I want to be if I grow up. I guess some of us NEVER get it together. πŸ™‚

    • Darc, I thought I was the only person in history who loved diagramming sentences! Haven’t done it in years, but I bet if I tried hard enough I could dream in those elegant branching lines.

      • John, diagraming sentences got me through junior high school. Not even flunking typing and being told I could never hope to be a writer if I were such a lousy typist had any effect. I lived to diagram those babies, the longer and discursive the better.

      • When I was in school, diagraming sentences was on the way out. Memories of diagraming are vague. And I think I was not good at it.

  3. I used to write little poems and stories when I was a kid, and all through school I often made it as far as “honorable mention” in contests and such. Never had my name in the paper though, that must have been really exciting. πŸ™‚ Just things in the little school paper, which was (literally!) cranked out by Mrs M__ in the office on the old mimeograph machine.

  4. I was known as the school artist, so though I liked to write, I wasn’t considered one of “the writers.” Nevertheless, I can’t believe I had the nerve, shy as I was, to take up two pages of my yearbook with a long Lawrence Ferlinghetti-ish poem about friendship surrounded by hallucinogenic illustrations (I was the straightest nerd in the school). I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose I was trying to prove I could be an artist and a writer, too. And also very cool.

    • I imagine that your yearbook art/poem was lovely. And hurray for you for being the school artist. I was just the school tall girl. Not exactly something that took any effort.

  5. Shelly (et al.) — diagramming complex sentence structures was the one thing I felt even vaguely virtuosic (?) about for a loooong time. To challenge me, somebody would point out a bear of a sentence in a magazine article or story and I’d just wrestle the heck out of it. Huge rush when I’d beat it.

    It’s funny. I can look back on years of Latin classes, which I was never crazy about, and see in my writing all sorts of lessons learned therefrom. Maybe sentence diagramming — which I loved — left its footprints, too, but I’m damned if I can see them.

    (Marta, the story says this was a 5th-grade class, right? So you didn’t feel the pull of writing before that?)

    • I started writing before 5th grade. I wrote poems and these little poem stories starting (I think) at 8 years old. Fifth grade is my first memory of school telling me to write.

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