I’m happy, healthy, and blessed to live in nature. Schools focus so much on sports and mathematics, we gifted elsewhere seem as if we’re lacking. It’s reasonable to seek a career in what we love but that isn’t our world either. I dearly embrace areas in which I excel, like language ability. Society over-schedules! A free-spirited child doesn’t absorb at 8:30 AM. Politics at university were so unfair, my regard of education fell. I didn’t study for a typical career. Always, I took things I liked – communication and the creative mind.
In grade 3 there was such a terrible teacher I attended in dread. I have trouble with the number 5 because of her. I’m not joking, see my handwriting. My parents got us the F**K out of that school, out of the whole English curriculum and we’re anglophone. Bright spots were few. The music teacher was gold! I learned to sing and she really gave ‘the bumps’ for our birthdays! I wish she were our primary teacher. I do cherish the day the main one asked us to spread around the room and write a story. I remember the specialized paper in light blue: lined, with a large box at the top for drawing. I was surprised about quickly coming up with a Strawberry Shortcake tale. This moment stayed with me because it is when I realized I loved story-writing! An audience didn’t matter.
Also at age 8, Mom gave me Christmas cards and stamps instead of signing my name. I have NEVER missed this tradition; not through hardship or busy jobs. The immersion school I joined in grade 4, grouped a bunch together until graduation. Impressions formed of you at 9 are disadvantageous but I was all right. Since I can’t bear to give up time to teams or groups, I raced home to freedom. So do most kids, which makes the next memory extraordinary. We took one class in English, my favourite since books and tasks were in my language. It was my forté.
In grade 6, I grinned when the teacher announced we’d read stories aloud. I would have been 11 and couldn’t contain myself. Mine was “The Mystery Of The Red Stump”. My eagerness was well-founded. Most watch the clock at last class of the day. Only I did. I progressed through my story but the bell did ring before I finished. I will never forget as long as I live, that when I paused to let everyone go home: the students begged me to finish. No one raised from a chair, no head left me. A shy child, at last I got a platform where I shine!
In high school, one of these peers asked if I’d honour a keepsake project with a poem. I’m not into poetry, find it easy. But I composed on-the-spot, thrilled she associated me with being a writer. What of the kid bursting to demonstrate her talent? With self-publishing, maybe people start young but I was in no hurry to think of a great novel. I thought I had to get through school and university (don’t use the same word as a synonym). I wanted to figure out who my fiancé would be, have my own place. In my teens, I did jump at two workshops with authors and have fond memories of one (thank you, Martha Brooks)! The other was likely a presentation. I only have notes from the opportunity with Martha. In university I took advanced creative writing. It was a dream-killer. I would be 33 before I considered ideas for a novel! I started but it wasn’t the genre for me. I didn’t brainstorm and truly begin a novel, until late last year! That university writing course suppressed me for 20 years!!
Since I bothered to try, inspiration has responded hard. The process is slow but I’ll finish my manuscript and query the heck out of agents. I want the publisher route. I gratefully say, there are ideas for more books! Artistic classes do develop tools; photography, piano, writing. Beyond learning logistics, formal courses can kill creativity and instinct. Art can be too polished, which is why I dislike Céline Dion’s music. Concert pianists play too fast, seem stiff. Professional photography looks like business advertisements. I like warmth and feeling to come through mine.
Visiting a writer’s workshop to get used to reading your work aloud ~ good.
Getting used to feedback on private creations and even critique ~ good.
Openness to areas of improvement ~ good.
Learning to evaluate someone else’s work candidly and kindly ~ good.
Education on publishing, agents, query letters that work ~ good.
Confirmation that another human being likes your stuff ~ good.
After this, graduate from workshops. Without a class you can have beta readers, embrace supportive circles or individuals (hi)! Worst-case scenario: what I experienced. Best-case scenario: they flatter our ass off. Then what? Other than great feedback, what are we after? Don’t take anyone’s critique, preference, or style as gospel. Don’t cater to a market. I want to sell and have fans but I’d like to become a well-written classic. Maybe kids don’t paste my poster on lockers but I hope the literary world talks about me.
This isn’t mathematics. Literature is PERSONAL, feedback an opinion. Try another pair of eyes but don’t await approval or edit the pure spark that compelled you to begin! Thanks Mom, Dad, and Grandparents for beaming about my efforts; always. Thanks to everyone enjoying this length of post. I quote from a poster Mom gave me, in front of me here.
“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. The unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along. You have two choices in life: you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be”.