Sunday, January 12, 2014

Writing about Writing

I am a writer.  

Words filled with so much power and confidence, I hardly dare to write them, but they are true enough.  I've rarely missed a day of writing since retiring from a 30 year career as an American public school teacher at the conclusion of the school year last May. 

I am even a published writer.  You doubt me? Every single day that I blog, I click on the little orange button that says PUBLISH so that my writing is available for public viewing.  In my mind, that kind of publishing will have to do until I can find a venue that will accept my work.  (Yes, I have submitted my writing for publication in a regional magazine, but have not pursued that; I'm having too much fun doing what I do:  this Randomocity blog.)

Ever since I can remember, I have been a writer.  There was that stellar piece in fourth grade about the twins at the zoo on the windy day, involving monkeys and an old man whose wig blew away in the wind.  Funny stuff right there.  Even then, I fancied myself as a bit of a comedian. 

There was the maudlin poetry I submitted to the high school literary magazine.  They published it; they were lacking for a minimal quantity to warrant publication; they accepted everything that was submitted, I believe.

My favorite classes from seventh grade on were those that required journaling.  I would pour my heart out in those spiral-bound notebooks, not caring about penmanship or content, but always editing as I wrote.  Great smears of scribbles and lines of writing removed with scratches of ink. Arrows here and there to indicate better placement of paragraphs.  

Mrs. Sellers' beautiful cursive was terse, in bright, red ink at the top of one of my 10th grade papers, "You have wonderful ideas, but your handwriting needs improvement."  Why, thank you. I only heard what I wanted to:  I had wonderful ideas. Everyone knew my chicken-scratch was atrocious. Who has time to re-copy anything by hand when there are so many ideas begging to be written?  Not I!  

My penmanship doesn't bother me. As a teacher, I found myself drawn to the children with better ideas than handwriting, consoling their parents with the thought that as long as they learn how to keyboard, their futures looked bright. "Look at me!" I would laugh. "I survived high school and college, and we all know what MY handwriting looks like!" 

During my freshman year, I purchased a manual typewriter WITHOUT a correction ribbon at the large thrift store near my college campus.  With great effort, I typed out my essays for classes, loving every minute of the process. No one could complain of my handwriting now.  Professors may have abhorred all of my whited-out lines, and heavily-inked corrections typed over and over, letter by letter, but my handwriting no longer would get in my way.

Remember monochromatic computer screens with amber print on a background of black, and dot matrix printers? Every week, I would print out letters for my parents, and mail them back to Virginia, entertaining them with stories about their precious grandchildren, and keeping them up-to-date on the events of my life in south-central Utah.  My mother saved all of my letters, and presented them to me later.  They are a treasure for me to recall the days with my little ones.

When I purchased my first color monitor and color printer, I was in heaven!  What a joy it was to see my words combined with photographs and graphics.

For seven delightful years of my career, it was my pleasure to teach first graders.  "If you can think it, you can say it. If you can say it, you can write it. If you can write it, you can read it." That was my mantra during those years.  I loved teasing the words out of those little ones. I had them dictate stories to me which they would then illustrate.  We sent home traveling books on a regular basis, allowing family members to write notes of praise in the back of the book on the blank pages for that very purpose.  

Always for myself, there have been my handwritten journals, since seventh grade. I don't count my daily diary from third grade with its lovely little lock and key.  What was found in that mock leather book were the secrets of my little eight-year-old life.  "I got up. I had breakfast.  I went to school.  I came home.  I played.  I watched TV after dinner."  REPEAT.  An exercise in monotony for days on end.  

The years have not been kind to my hands and wrists, and once arthritis was diagnosed a year
ago, I have let slide writing much of anything produced by hand.  There are entries in my composition books, to be sure,  but more and more, I rely on my laptop.  Thank heavens for my MacBook Pro; it has been my very best friend, a retirement gift from my husband.

Am I a writer?  Oh, yes, I am; I am a prolific writer. My volumes span nearly half a century. I am not well-known, nor do I care if I am. My fan base is small, but growing, consisting of friends and family, and friends of friends and family, who check in on my blog from time to time. My circle of friends grows, and with it, my readership.  For that, I am grateful.  Whenever I make a connection with another soul over my writing, I feel such joy and gratitude.  

During the last year of my beloved teaching career, I must admit I fretted a bit over what I would do with my time. My passions have always been motherhood and teaching.  As I was approaching the empty nest syndrome and retirement, I would have to find something else about which to be passionate.  My grown children need less mothering and more moral support from a distance, and my teenager is enjoying his independence more and more; what would I do without a job?  

I woke up the very first day of my summer vacation, and began a ritual I hope will never end. My laptop and I get cozy every single day, exploring my thoughts, my stories, my hopes and dreams. I finally have the time to explore the world with my Canon camera, and to be a writer.  My former hobbies have become my passions, and I am so grateful to be able to say, "I am a writer."


  1. A person after my own heart. The arts such as writing have always been the stars in my life. I am enjoying getting to know you in the challenge.

    1. Linda, thank you! It is a pleasure to make new friends who share my passion.


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