Sunday, July 6, 2008

First Writ and Ownership

I don’t remember when I first put pencil to paper but it must have been a magical moment. And soon after that followed the wondrous feeling of independence with the first crafting of pictures, stories, and poems. Works and drawings tidily within the lines of my own will, mind, imagination, and determination. Without interference or impediment. It was like learning to fly.

Until some teacher strode down the aisle, peeked over my shoulder and said, “That is not how to draw a sleeve, that is not a story I believe, and ‘leave’ is not an adjecteeve!"

So?

P.S. I was so little and already someone was tampering with my soul.

9 comments:

Pauline said...

Oh those dratted "teachers"! My first grade teacher set up a reading corner for me because I was the only child in my class that could already read but after that, each successive teacher found it necessary to red-pen every thing I wrote or drew or imagined. How I argued and wept and hated school! Still, some of that drive for perfection in what I wrote, that insistence on critical thinking and finding just the right words, harsh though it was, stood me in good stead when I became a writer in the public eye. I will not draw for the public though. I can't lift a brush or a sketching pencil without feeling berated before I begin.

Roberta S said...

pauline, yes books and lit teachers have helped me write better, but you are so right about drawing and painting.

But I still yen to know what my writing would be like if it had not been so contaminated. My trapper bushman friend has had no such interference, to him grammar and spelling mean nothing, and publishers are following him around to get his stories.

Pauline said...

It is the stories we are after, after all - and those told without regard for grammar and spelling - if told well, resonate somewhere inside us where grammar and spelling don't dwell. But, if they make for difficult reading, only the persistent will read them and that's a loss.

I don't think your writing is contaminated so much as contained. And that's not always a bad thing, for your stories have such a ring of truth and a strong simplicity of thought under all your grammar that you prove the efficacy of of such constraints.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Such stern criticism at such an early age...certainly more common back then than now. Who knows...maybe in some small way it helped to attribute to the beautiful and creative person you are today....but just a small way. God...and you pretty much did most of the work.

Dick said...

As an ex-teacher I'm acutely conscious of the first invocation to which we should all pay heed: 'Tread softly because you tread on my dreams'. The damage that we can do is second only to that visited upon kids by parents.

In retirement I'm forming a hit squad of fellow pedagogues to go into schools in which such teachers are reported as operating. Wherever they are, whether actively diminishing the self-esteem of their charges or simply taking coffee, they will be seized, rushed to the top storey of the school building and cast into the playground in full view of the student body.

S L Cunningham said...

The writing I had to do at school was not the writing I did at home where I learned to soar with the written word by reading, keeping a journal, and developing my own writing. At school, reading and writing was boring, disconnected, and the topics we had to write on did not seem to be something that anyone would care to write on to begin with. I failed English more times than I passed. As I later argued when I became a teacher, students will not take an interest in learning how to read and write unless it is made authentic. That is, it has to have purpose and relevance to them. It is good to see that you have discovered the purpose and relevance writing has for you.

Roberta S said...

hi joy. I have to say that what I love most about you is your eternal optimism and very kind ways. Thanks for that comment. Perhaps you are right.

Roberta S said...

Love your perspective, scot.

Oh, how many essays I wrote that were so painful to write, yet I daren't add humor, wit, or even punny stuff. Essays that would only get a passing mark if they were even more arid than the dry matter they discussed. I like the idea of separating the two 'genres' into inspired words and uninspired conglomerates.

With that kind of separation, all writing comes easier even wasted-desert stuff. And so I much appreciate you bringing this enlightenment to this discussion.

Roberta S said...

dick, I am much in favor of the newly formed fellowship you spoke of. Hit them hard. Hit them where it hurts.

More seriously, thanks dick for commenting. I like the idea you have expressed that shows compassion for the particular annoyance of unjust criticisms expressed in this blog.