Tag Archives: writers

Writing Wins and Woes: Kudos to Great Teachers

This is my third installment of Back to School with Writing, and I just realized that my first two blogs were really “downers” on teachers. I’m not anti-teacher. I went to school to be a teacher (although I dropped out) and I’ve been a proud Sunday school type teacher since I was 16 years old. I really enjoy teaching and am thankful for some of the best ones in my life. Teachers shape who we become in many ways.

That’s why I’m sharing this blog. It’s my writing story. My desire to become a writer was definitely spawned by my sixth grade teacher, Miss Stehman. Miss Stehman and I had a lot in common. We both loved reading, and writing, and we both disliked math. Every Friday was Math games. We didn’t even have math class that day. Instead we played board type games. Miss Stehman fostered learning through singing songs while she played guitar, story telling by one of my favorite classmates who was the class clown and writing stories.

I wrote tons of stories in her class. Miss Stehman liked them and asked me if she could keep some of them. I was flattered. Never had a teacher shown me any attention, at least not in a positive way. I started to think, “Maybe, I’m a good writer.” I’m sure my stories back then were mediocre at best. I’ve had a chance to read one or two and they’re funny in  a childish kind of way but don’t seem to be evidence of a great author in the making. Somehow, though, she saw potential in me, and that fanned the flame. I never stopped writing after that. In Seven and Eighth grade, I told stories to my friends at overnight sleep overs. I remember writing stories that I shared with some of my friends, too. And in ninth grade, I won second prize in a speech contest for a patriotic speech I wrote.

I wrote story after story and kept writing but never got a thing published until about three years ago, when I decided to send some stories in to magazines. I tried a venue called The Kids’ Ark and was accepted. Thus, a writer was truly born. But it all began sixth grade with a teacher who thought a little nobody in her class was a pretty good writer. And for that I’ll always be grateful.1268


Writing Wins and Woes: Back to School with Writing; Writers in their right minds

Lefties are the only ones in their right minds is a saying that stems from the fact that left handed people use the right side of their brains more. My first experience knowing I was different was not a positive one. When I started school, I had a very old-school teacher. She decided that my being left-handed was wrong, and so made it her goal to break me of it. She wrote right and left on my hands so I would use the so-called “right” right hand to write with. My mom, on seeing this, to her credit, confronted my teacher who said “I don’t know how to teach a left-handed student.” Well, my mom let her know this was her job, and she better learn how to do it. I had no more trouble after that, although I often got only average grades in handwriting, where I mostly excelled at other subjects; except Math, but that’s another story for another nightmare.

I recently discovered that our current president, Barack Obama is a Lefty. That made me wonder how many other presidents were left-handed. It’s interesting because it’s hard to know. Like my experience in school, others have been “broken” of their handedness. Being left-handed was once named as a disability and people learned to write with their right hands who were naturally inclined to be left-handed. However, of the last seven presidents, 4 were left-handed. That’s well above the average. In case you’re wondering, they are our current president, Clinton, the elder Bush and Gerald Ford. It also has been reported that Reagan was broke from left-handedness to his right hand, so possibly five of seven were left handed. Wow!

Why is this? Well, lefties apparently are divergent thinkers. They excel in the arts, sports, music and information technology fields. They are good at things where opponents face each other. Maybe because we lefties tend to think outside the box, we go for “unique” careers.  Whatever the reason, there are a lot of talented lefties around. Of course, I had to find out the writers who were lefties. Here’s my list: James Baldwin, Peter Benchley, Lewis Carroll, Dianne Paul, H G Wells, Eudora Welty, among others. Also one of my favorite people of all time, who deserves a blog post of her own, Helen Keller,  was a lefty.

Are there any other lefties out there? I’d like to hear from you. We might be out in left field, but we’re always in our right minds. 1280

Writing Wins and Woes: Writers and Babies

This is kind of a humorous piece. You have to keep laughing if you’re a writer. Otherwise, you’d be depressed a good deal of the time.  I’ve called this edition of my blog Writers and Babies or What do Writers and Babies have in common?

  1. They cry a lot. Let’s face it, babies have to cry. They need to make their needs known so they can be fed, changed or just entertained. Writers cry a lot, too, over all the rejections, disillusions and dysfunctions of the writing life. It’s sad, it’s solitary and it’s disappointing a lot of the time.
  2. They need changes. This goes without saying in babies, doesn’t it? ha ha. But if a writer doesn’t change, he doesn’t move forward. They get stuck, and they don’t go anywhere.
  3. They need to progress from babyhood to adulthood. If I stayed with short stories as a writer, I’d be a fabulous short story writer, I suppose, but I wouldn’t be much of an author. Writers needs to write books, not just stories. Stories are nice. Books are better. A writer can also write and write and write and never submit something for publication. That’s fear talking. I know it well. Those are all things baby writers do. Adult writers have to be brave and grow.
  4. They need attention. Babies love attention, whether they have real needs or they are just bored. If a writer doesn’t get attention, nobody reads their books, they don’t sell books and their writing career fizzles.
  5. They need experts to help them. Well, this one is a stretch, because the experts can be parents or they can be doctors, child help books, grandparents(notice how I slipped that one in).  Writers also need experts to help them. It may be another writer who is more successful, a fresh pair of eyes to read their work, or a  publisher.
  6. They need reassurances. Babies need to be oohed and ahhed and patted on the back and held and swayed and rocked, etc. etc. They need lots of positive reinforcement. So do writers. If writers don’t get this kind of support, they give up, they get discouraged, and they quit writing.
  7. Writers are most happy when they’re needs are met. And by needs, I mean wants. Writers are happiest of all, overjoyed even, when they sell a book, a story or an article. When someone says, I read your thing, and I really liked it. So, you’re a writer and you’re kind of like a baby, that’s okay. People love you. Someday you’ll grow up and it’ll be worth all the fuss.laughing miles

Writing Wins and Woes: What do dogs and successful writers have in common?

1188932Lucy pics 012I thought it might be time for another humorous post especially as my past posts have been somewhat disheartening in their tone. So, without further ado let’s consider the question, what do dogs and successful writers have in common?

  1. They stay focused on their task. If you ever see a dog siting patiently waiting for that last bit of food you have, or training his eye on a tennis ball, or even sheep herding, you know that dogs stick to the job they know they have to do. A writer who stays focused on the novel he’s writing, or the story that flashed into her mind or the tireless research to make a story authentic, you will find the writer who is successful.
  2. They are loyal. Everyone knows dogs are loyal creatures. They love their masters. They forgive and forget. Writers need to be loyal, too. They need to be loyal to writing groups, writing friends, people who buy their books and anybody who might give a crap about their writing. Without faithful supporters, you can’t have a successful writer, so we have to support them in return.
  3. They struggle against impossible odds. Incredible Journey. Lassie Come Home. Benji, Greyfriar’s Bobby. Some of these stories are even true, but even if they are a bit concocted, dogs will do anything to be reunited with their masters. Selling a book is definitely an impossible feat. Even when you do sell a book, do you know the average book sells less than 500 copies? Yet, we stick to the task against these odds. Why? Because we’re writers.
  4. They love what they do. Ever see a dog hang his head out a car window? Run wild in a field after absolutely nothing? Eat a bowl of disgusting dog food? Dogs love what they do. A writers who loves what he creates is a successful writer.
  5. They keep the faith. Dogs don’t lose faith in us. They wait even if we’re gone all day or days even. They don’t lose hope. They stick by gravesides, bedsides, couch sides and table sides. Okay, maybe that’s for food, but we can’t argue that dogs have an incredible amount of tenacity. They don’t give up. If we want to be successful writers, we have to keep believing in our work, ourselves and our futures. So, do you want to be a successful writer? Take a few lessons from dogs. Chase your dreams and run them down.