Life

Why I Shouldn’t Write, Part I

Culottes, hymnbooks, and A Beka curriculum. If you didn’t attend a private, Baptist school, these words mean nothing (unless you made fun of the kids who did attend such a school). In 2000, I graduated high school alongside thirteen friends who made up our class body since their kindergarten years in my ultra-conservative K-12 school.

I can probably count on two hands all of the writing assignments my teachers gave me during my middle and high school years.

A sixth grade research paper on the pony express.

A middle school poetry project.

A couple of book reports.

A senior research paper about abortion.

Okay, so apparently I only need one hand.

While I am grateful for the education I received, the friends I made, and the teachers who sacrificed their salary on the altar of their calling, I went to college completely unprepared for the reading and writing demands placed upon students.

In college, I taught myself how to read. I taught myself how to write. I taught myself how to properly format a paper according to MLA format…and APA, and Chicago, and Turabian.

Dr. Laurie Nutter, one of the few teachers I remember from my college experience, assigned The Odyssey in my first literature survey course. Almost all of the students in my class had already read this classic. Me? I couldn’t even spell the title properly. My high school literature experience was reading aloud in class from an anthology that censored anything with language, sensuality, or violence. It didn’t help that I was raised in an area of the Appalachian Mountains where “country dialect” was considered proper English. Dr. Nutter’s short-answer quizzes focused on the minutest details. After a “D” on my first quiz, I picked up a highlighter and pen and began studying the text as I read.  At the beginning of class, I reviewed my notes. I carried this habit with me the rest of the way through school.

I continued to take literature courses as electives because I couldn’t get enough of all the gems that had been hidden from me during my high school career.  It was my faulty belief that anything labeled a classic must be synonymous with boring. And archaic.

During my college literature courses, I learned that human nature is ugly, I learned that there is redemption in the ashes of destruction, I learned that it is okay to have compassion for the unlovable, I learned that the face of human perfection is a façade, I learned that problems sometimes don’t resolve.

I learned about life.

What does reading have to do with writing?

Everything.

2 thoughts on “Why I Shouldn’t Write, Part I”

  1. We’re kindred spirits in more ways than one, Girlfriend. Take ten years off your grad date, and you’re an echo of my story. Love the ending of this piece: reading and writing inextricably linked.

    1. Melissa,

      Thank you for your unending encouragement. It’s nice to know that someone else had a similar experience to mine.

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