Thursday, September 30, 2010

"writing is not your thing"

Mama's Losin' It

This week's writing prompt from Mama Kat's Writers Workshop is to write about a time a teacher disappointed me. I will be writing about a college professor that nearly squashed my dream of being a writer, and fortunately I found that zest for writing later in my professional career.

"Writing is not your thing..." A college professor told me in my junior year. Really? REALLY? "I just don't like your style," she continued.

I've loved to write since I could string sentences together. For what it's worth, I won a little award in the second grade for a two lined essay I wrote about my brother. Or being free. Or my pet. Or something like that. It hung in the cafeteria for parents night and I received a certificate for it.

As I grew, English classes were my favorite. I loved to creative write and I consistently received A's. I kept journals and enjoyed writing letters.


So when I transfered to a four year university, immediately passed the writing test that 60% of those who take don't pass to move on to the next level of English to complete my requirements, I enrolled myself in this course. I don't remember the name. I just remember the teacher. A firey red head who clearly did not care for me.

Perhaps it was because I didn't raise my hand and speak wildly, using terms like utopia and ethnography. I read the assigned reading, and wrote to what I believed in. But she "didn't like my style." And she told me this in front of the whole class. I sought help. Worked with a classmate to bring my essays to her taste. But no go.

And I cried. I often believed writing would be a career. But she, in a matter of two sentences, squashed that dream and I looked for different majors, switching from journalism to radio and television, which I ultimately received my degree in.

But as my professional career evolved, I became a professional writer. I've had multiple stories published in print and I write marketing copy.

I'm not saying I am a fantabulous writer. My grammar can be terrible. I don't use punctuation properly. And I don't use the most interesting words, like ethnography and utopia. I start too many sentences with "and," "but" and "so". But clearly it isn't all that bad. I'm (occasionally) paid to do it.

More importantly, writing is my thing. It makes me tick. I write this blog at will. I'm not paid to do it. I simply do it out of joy. It's my art and I certainly don't expect everyone to like it.

This teacher was wrong on so many levels. But the big one was suggesting that writing wasn't my thing based on that she didn't like my style. Some may like Picasso, and hate Monet. That is a matter of taste, but it doesn't mean that art wasn't there thing.


  1. Soooo glad you did not listen to that fiery red headed monster! Yikes!!! stopping by from Mama's . . . and I enjoyed your post, and I am seriously wondering if we had the same college prof. :)

  2. Bravo!
    Clearly, writing IS your thing and I'm so glad you found it in yourself and let it out, again.
    Makes me think of Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame. She was turned down repeatedly until one day... someone liked her style, her genre, her sense humor and a classic was born.

  3. I am the QUEEN of beginning sentences with conjunctions. My personal opinion on the matter is that a few conjunctions are not going to kill anybody. Also, these days I only 'write' on my weblog - and I figure blogs are conversational, so I may as well write the way I speak.

    But then again, I'm not a writer. So what do I know?

    At any rate, I had a teacher who did the same thing to me. She was one of my high school literature teachers and she told me that I would never go far in this world. She couldn't imagine a college that would accept any essay I wrote, she said, and she hoped that I just gave up writing then.

    Unlike you, writing was never my thing, and I was always sort of an asshole of a student, so the only part that really offended me was when she dropped me from her class (honors) without any forewarning. My friends thought I had flunked the year prior or something - which I certainly had not - and nobody believed me that a teacher could do something like that. It very much defined my outlook on the educational system. A couple weeks after that teacher dropped me, another teacher unexpectedly picked me up into their honors class, but I spent the rest of the semester playing catch-up.

  4. Thanks for the wonderful comments! I don't think of this woman often, in fact I had forgotten about her until this assignment.

    Sarah - I am surprised to learn that writing isn't your thing. Your blog is beautifully and passionately written.

    Did you all notice how many times I used the word ultimately? I fixed it...

  5. Oh. . . I am SO with you. I was an English Lit and Writing major until my junior year, when one prof told me that I had to choose between Lit and Writing, and if I chose writing, I MAY NEVER GRADUATE. Because writing classes are subjective and if the prof's opinions of my writing were not good, I would not pass and would not graduate.

    I mean, c'mon, REALLY?!?

    Scared me enough that I went straight into English Lit and have tried since then to convince myself that I won't fail just bc someone doesn't like my writing. . . . so glad you moved on and chose your love of writing!!!

    Found you from Mama Kats

  6. Shame on that teacher! I never had a teacher tell me it wasn't my thing, but I my style of writing was often quashed by teachers who didn't appreciate a little sarcasm.I'm glad that you've found your calling as a writer. I'm stopping by from Mama Kat's.


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