Thursday, January 3, 2008

How I got here: Part 3

Hello everyone

This post may be a bit shorter than usual. That is because I have two articles due tomorrow and one of them isn't even started yet. I am NOT good at pressure. In college I always had all my homework done at least 2 weeks early. In fact, in my final semester I was done with my assignments a full one month before exams. This worked out great because I found out I that semester that my husband and I were expecting our first child.

Ah, but I'm starting to ramble. I wanted to tell you that I read a great blog today. You can check it out at Rachelle Gardner's blog:

You'll see I left a comment there.

Oh, and if you have a question you'd like to ask blog about it. Then post the link in my comments section. I'll come over to answer the question that way not only will you have your question answered but your readers will as well.

If you're one of the dozens of new people to hit this site today, welcome. We're on day three of how I got to where I am as a writer. You can read the two previous posts to get caught up.

Now, here's part 3

I told you yesterday that I had two different teachers at two different schools encourage me in my writing. Then at the end of my Freshman year I moved to a wealthy suburban school district.

I didn't fit in at all.

The black nail polish and biker jacket that I'd wore at my previous high school now made me the subject of ridicule. I felt more an more isolated in this new world. I was excited to learn there was a gymnastics team [I varsitied two years]. However, my stories still ate at me. Whenever I felt lonely or scared I'd sit and write. Some were the "poetic" musings of a 15 year old heartsick girl while others were the opening scenes to stories.

I kept writing, and reading, and dreaming of "being famous one day".

Then late in the first semester at the new school a ray of hope!! A writing assignment.

For the third time I went to my Literature teacher and asked if I could rework this project and turn it in if I could prove I had added the required number of pages. My teacher was very happy to encourage a budding writer and thus I went home and dug in to the story some more. The story now approached 40 pages and was getting even more detailed. Sandy [the heroine] and her husband [Todd] were comforting to me. Now it was like I was back in my home town. A safe place...far from this rich school who had rejected me.

I completed the assignment and turned it in and waited.

A week later I got the paper and tore to the final page: D-

I couldn't believe this was my grade. I began to look through the story. There was blood on every page. Red ink slashed through word after word and phrases like "what is this?" and "what does this mean?" filled the margins. Even my Alfred Hitchcock twist at the end was met with the phrase "So did this happen or not?"

I slid the paper in my folder. Clearly those inner-city teachers had only tried to boost the confidence of a poor girl. I'd never had any talent.

It would be ten years before I wrote another story. And when I did I had no way of knowing what was about to start.

I'll see you tomorrow.


Wayne said...

I find that there is too much smoke been blown at writers. I prefer straight shooters telling me where I've gone wrong and detest the ego-stroking that abounds amongst wrting coaches. In fact, I recently dropped a Gotham Writers' Workshop because of exactly that problem. But that's just me.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, Tiff, that teacher obviously didn't know much! About writing or teaching!

I stopped writing when I was about 18 because of something an agent said. Yes, I was actually submitting to agents then! I wasn't ready, of course, but thank goodness I started writing again, about 15 years later.

Karen Lynch-Live the Power said...

One of my high school English teachers told me I had "no creativity". I can remember being absolutely crushed but trying not to express it. So like you I didn't write for a long time either.
But I still feel "called" to write and I feel the joy as the words pour out.
Blogging has helped me find my voice now I just want to expand it further. (BTW- there are no Live the Power Unlimited blog carnivals scheduled for the near future but your submissions still helped me find you!)

****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Thank you for participating in the Life Lessons of a Military Wife Carnival at

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