Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finding the Spark

After completing my book, I started thinking about who I should thank. My friends and family, of course, and those who helped me get the book published. Then I thought about my English teachers over the years since I had quite a few. Shouldn’t I thank them?

I have to say I got spoiled early on. I had an amazing creative writing teacher in high school who actually believed in creativity. In junior college, I had the privilege of taking several literature classes from a teacher who studied at Cambridge. He was a little old British man who wore tiny spectacles and his suits were always wrinkled, but he taught me a love for the English language and for literature that I will never forget. He did not try to overanalyze everything. He just loved the way the words were put together to weave a story or paint a picture. To him, every word was chosen for its specific meaning to convey something unique when blended with other words. He picked the most beautiful poems and short stories, and I grew to appreciate talented authors. He loved literature and it was contagious. I decided to teach high school English and share that love with others.

I transferred to a university as English major in the teaching credential program. The English professors there were completely different. They overanalyzed every word, certain they knew exactly what the author really meant. They wanted to cram their ideas into my head and had no interest in what I thought. They were especially brutal on students’ attempts at writing. They were so cruel and discouraging. We could never be Hemmingway, Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Melville, etc. so why bother? If they ever really loved literature, they lost it somewhere along the way and became more interested in hearing themselves talk. I actually changed my major to Psychology and never went back (they weren’t any better if you’re wondering, just more entertaining). After graduate school, I became so burnt out on reading and writing that I just quit. I played the game and fed them back their ideas in exchange for good grades and degrees. All that hard work and the professors forgotten, but somewhere along the way I lost my spark. That love affair I had with literature and writing.

My husband is an avid reader, and a few years ago we were in Barnes and Noble and he said to me, “Why don’t you get a book to read?” “NO! I have plenty of books.” He said “Why don’t you get something fun?” He went to the horror section and said “Here you like creepy stuff.” He handed me Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, and I was lost. I finally returned to my first love of literature. I started making time to read again, but I still wasn’t writing. Last summer my father said “Remind me again why you stopped writing?” I didn’t really have a good answer. I was sharing some of my ideas with my sister and BFF and they encouraged (threatened) me to put it on paper. So I started writing. I actually wrote an entire book. Something I had never before accomplished. What a rush! The spark is back.

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