A Collective Shudder from English Teachers Everywhere

Why do I write? Hmm. My entire life, all 28 years of it, people have told me that my writing is horrid. Honestly, high school English teachers would make fun of my papers in class, college professors told me to stick with public speaking and even my own friends and family are known to give me weird looks when I mention writing. So why am I doing this? It’s a good question. I guess most of the blame can fall on the shoulders of my husband. Ah, my husband. One of the sweetest, smartest and wittiest people I’ve met, and that’s not just the love talking. He is also one of the most persistent buggers I know.

We started dating our senior year in high school while I was heavily involved with the theatre. I stopped pursuing acting my freshmen year in college due to the fact that acting was a stress reliever for me. Well, imagine my strife when it became a major source of stress in my life. So I switched to English and basically floated through college, not knowing what I was going to do with my life. What I did know was that I was going to marry my high school sweetheart and have babies and be completely happy with that. HA! Oh, if I only knew.

I was miserable. There was no creativity in my life. None. I can’t draw, I stepped away from the stage and you don’t want to hear my poetry. All through college, my now husband, lets call him Sparky, has encouraged me to write. I thought he was crazy. I told him about the time I wrote a story when I was in fourth grade that included the phrase “all of a sudden” about forty times in a chapter. (The phrase is just so dramatic that it appealed to the fourth grade Kaye, hell, it appeals to the 28 year old Kaye.) I showed the story to my mom with all my hopes and dreams in my eyes. She read it, placed it face down on the kitchen table, patted my head and told me to go play with my friends. Gee, thanks, Mom. (In my mother’s defense, she is a very supportive person and when she knows that I’m serious about something she is the first one to back me up.)

Sparky refused to let me think poorly of myself or my writing. “You are a great story teller, Kaye. What’s writing but putting your words down on paper?” Easier said than done, my love.

1. I talk with my hands. My hands fill in where my meager vocabulary fails. How can I possibly write when hand gestures make up half of my vocabulary?

2. I’m disorganized in my thoughts.  Half the time when I’m trying to talk there are other thoughts that my mind is trying to push out of my mouth at the same time that it causes both ideas to come out at once. Really, it makes me sound quite intelligent. (Sigh)

3. Remember what my English teachers told me? Yeah, they said to stick with the stage. Ouch.

I did return to the stage by way of community theatre. It served its purposes for a while. But, pretty soon the voices started. (Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) I couldn’t stop them and they kept me up at night which really pissed me off. When I was younger and I couldn’t fall asleep I would dream about what my life would be like. They were pleasant dreams that would send me off to dreamland with a smile on my face. As I got older and realized that my dream of becoming a doctoring lawyer who would have a veterinarian practice on the side would never come true, I would envision other people living adventurous lives. Those once quiet aspirations now took on a life of their own. These people had their own personalities, their own goals and they insisted that I stay awake until I figured out how they got there and where they were going. Really, they can be very bossy and impatient.

This past November Sparky introduced me to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and did the one thing he knew would get me to pursue it. He dared me. He used my Marty McFly Syndrome against me. (“No one calls me chicken.”) So I sat down and I wrote, and I wrote and then when I couldn’t do any more I wrote some more. And you know what? I loved it. Do all of the chapters make sense? Hell no. Did I just change my character’s name for the 30th time in a chapter? You better believe it. Did you finish a novel? Damn straight. And yes, it may suck, it may be juvenile, corny, horrible, pretentious but its mine, all mine. Ahahahahaa! And you know what? I liked doing it. The freedom it gives me is comparable to the freedom the stage gave me but with some major differences. These are my words, my thoughts, my ideas, not someone else’s. It’s intoxicating. It’s addictive. It’s scary as hell and I think I like that aspect most of all.

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About Karen DeLabar

A writer who divides her time between her family and her computer while sparing some time to her other loves of theatre, books and scotch.
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2 Responses to A Collective Shudder from English Teachers Everywhere

  1. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Y’all,

    Welcome to the coffee and writing club.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  2. Pingback: Have Coffee Will Write » Blog Archive » FLATTERING IMITATION AND AMERICA’S ATHEISTS…

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