When I was in grade school I struggled with writing so much that I was sent to a writing specialist and ultimately it was requested I be held back in the second grade. Possibly it was because of my early start into school as a September baby as I had just made the cutoff date. Or maybe I in actuality suffered from a learning disability that would require me to learn differently. Regardless I daily was removed from my otherwise mundane classroom to spend quality time with my tutor.
My recollection of her was an attractive, nurturing and patient teacher. She would greet me with a warm hug and a genuine smile as she’d ask me to read a book like Clifford the Big Red Dog. I would buzz through the words with ease reading to her as if I was the teacher and she was my student, hanging on my every word and only occasionally fixing my pronunciation. Seemed I didn’t struggle with reading comprehension or grammar but actually had difficulties in writing an essay citing what I had just read.
Blankly I’d stare at the page of penmanship paper where often the only thing I’d written was my name and the date along the top followed by “The book Clifford the Big Red Dog is about…”
If the paper was actually an old monochrome computer I’d be starring at a blinking cursor. What do I write next? I didn’t have a fucking clue. Lost in the details of an entire book and forced to write a simple summary of the most elementary book was a stressful struggle. I’d ask if I could sharpen my pencil or go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Stall tactics until the hour long tutoring session would end while I figured there was always tomorrow right?
My tutor was nurturing and patient as she’d allow me the curtesy of wasting her valuable time. And when I ran out of juvenile stunts of misdirection she’d warmly say “okay Michael now can you please write what you just read?”
Hell no I couldn’t. What do I write first and what was most important? Setting, plot, adjectives and capitalization… screw this I’m out.
My tutor would take a paper and place it into a file folder and put it away. She would than look into my eyes and with the sweetest voice say “okay you win again. Tell me the story about Clifford the Big Red Dog” and holy shit I did. Every last fucking detail from Clifford’s size and hair and reactions. No problems there as I would talk and talk and talk.
And then my tutor would take back out the blank essay paper and say “alright now write exactly what you just said.” I’d love to tell you that I did and it was perfect which I’m doubting is the truth however what I do recall is my first academic rush as I pencil to paper wrote and wrote and wrote.
Thinking back I remember those big fat pencil erasers that I would burn through as I corrected my less than stellar penmanship. It was on that day I found my narrative writing technique which is still the only way I know how to write.
I spent the next year with my tutor reading and writing essays. My memories not sharp enough to remember the content or any additional details except how I learned to write.
My remaining years as a “student” were a shit show spending most of my time in the principals office and subsequently in detention or suspension for not following the rules. To this day I feel that rules are for other people as I generally just do everything that I want. It’s doubtful that my writing style has improved much since my year with my tutor however I’ve stuck with my style and won’t change for anything.
Recently I’ve been following the marketing guru Seth Godin’s expert advice to write a blog a day. These can be based on random thoughts or philosophical ideas that you want to just get out there. I’m confident that my writing with improve exponentially as I continue to write and let that storytelling voice be heard.
Seldom have I found a situation where I’ve nothing to say and it’s been a very long time since I’ve stared at a blank page. Creative writing has expanded my thoughts and mind and is a dopamine rush. I become anxious to complete my thoughts and hit the publish button. It’s of paramount importance I continue to follow my own unwritten rules to be honest and forthcoming as I expose my thoughts and experiences in an abridged but unadulterated style.
As a creative designer and artist I struggle to stay on topic as my interests vary widely. This certainly is a compelling argument for my certain failure to ever become a successful author as I’d guess I’ll struggle finding a fan base with quite as diverse and quite frankly wild amount of passions and interests. However I’ll trudge on not losing site of my objective. To find my voice and share my thoughts.
One day I’ll pull back out the letters of correspondence my father typed back and forth to the school board requesting and subsequently denying my specialized education to find out why I do is what works. Possibly there is an answer in there that’ll help me stay in my lane but until then…. I’m just going to keep on hitting publish.Michael Competielle