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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

They made me love writing

Many people have been mentioning to me lately that I write quite well. Firstly, thanks! Trying not to sound up myself here, but it does make me happy to hear people say that. Like all the time I spend writing these posts is most definitely worth it. I also have to give some of the credit to my high school English teachers, without them I probably wouldn't have as much of an interest in writing as I do now. It's funny because at the time I had no idea how much those classes would have an affect on my life.

My first English teacher Mrs Cameron really is the reason why I developed such an over analysing mind, I think. Or at least she gave me an outlet for it. In grade 9 I was introduced to "critical literature", in other words a way to analyse everything that you're viewing, reading, hearing; to work out what the underlying message is. I have never been able to just sit and watch a movie since. I'm always trying to work out why they used certain colours, props, scenes, music and what it's meant to mean. It's quite annoying, maybe this is why I can never just sit and relax, I always have to be trying to work out why everything is happening.

While I'm grateful for being introduced to the crit lit way of thinking, Mrs Cameron and me didn't really get along that well. In grade 10 she accused me of cheating on a short story assessment. She walked me outside the classroom and told me that I obviously had my parents write the story for me because it was too good. Apart from being offensive, I found that mildly hilarious. A: my dad was not even alive (she didn't know that) and B: my mum never finished high school let alone had any interest in writing. I never got good marks in her class. I think the highest I ever got was a B and that was rare, which is odd considering I was supposedly cheating because my work was too good. And yet not good enough to get good marks. Makes total sense right? Anyway, in grade 12 they had to split her class up and she had to pick 3 students to move to another English class. Not surprisingly, she picked me. I didn't care, in fact I was so thankful to get out of her class by then. I moved to Mr Huth's class and that's when I really started to love English and writing even more.

Mr Huth was awesome! He actually cared about his students and helping them. He also made his classes fun. I went from an average student in Mrs Cameron's class to the top of the class with Mr Huth (and I never changed the amount of effort I put into my work). Go figure. In that year we were asked to do another short story, this time about an important time in our life. I wrote about my dad, for the first time ever. I wrote about walking through the funeral parlour when we went to see him after he had died (yes I saw him dead) and included flash backs to my last few memories before he died. I never admitted to most of the people at my school that my dad had died and the teachers didn't really know either. Writing that story was a big step for me, but it was one of the strongest memories I had and one that I thought I could write about in detail. I also never wanted to forget it. I found out after the assessment that Mr Huth took my story home and got his wife to read it as well. Apparently they were both in tears it touched them that much. I got an A+ for that story.

I am so glad that I was moved to that English class. Mr Huth made me believe in myself and my abilities. He gave me the courage to open up and tell my story. He made me feel like it mattered. He cemented my love for writing. Writing has been such a huge constant in my life since then. I want to tell my story. I want others to learn from my story, but most of all I want to make it matter by telling it. To give a reason to why I went through all these hard times and heartache. I guess it was a combination of Mrs Cameron's critical literature and Mr Huth's encouragement that got me to where I am today, and I will be forever grateful to them for that.

Toni xx

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a nice story. :) It's great your talent didn't get wasted because of that first teacher. Probably she just envied you for your good writing in that short story.

    I can relate to teachers encouraging me to write. In grade 10 I had an awesome English teacher who always tried to make me talk and share my opinions (I was rather shy back then) and he convinced me that my essays were good. He was also the reason I started to read English books (it's not my mother tongue) and from then on I loved it. Thanks to him, I became interested in reading and writing in English.

    1. I like to think she was jealous on some level too although I doubt it.

      I had a really good german teacher too. I loved german although Ive forgotten a fair bit of it as I havent used it in 10 years. I think I could still make my way around Germany ok though if I had to. You are so good at english especially given its a second laguage for you.

  2. First off, you are a great writer, and I really enjoyed this piece. So you should believe what others are telling you. I'm so happy that you found the teacher that you needed to get you motivated in English. I am a college English teacher and hope that I do the same for some of my students. That is my goal anyway.

    You have a great blog here.

  3. Being critical can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good if constructive as it helps you to move on in the right direction and bad if it's just intended to constantly put you down and break your spirit. Mrs Cameron played her part in your life and Mr Huth clearly helped in paving the way for your writing, so I can see why they deserve praise. Keep up the good work and Nice post :)

  4. Writing can serve so many functions: an emotional outlet, a form of self-expression, self-amusement, self-discovery, a conduit for the imagination, a way to make friends. Keep it up.

  5. Hi, visiting via the Weekend Rewind. Oooh "crit lit" sounds interesting, I've always wanted to know how to properly analyse books and movies! But I take your point that it must be hard to relax in to it once you know how!

  6. It sounds like you had some awesome teachers. We need more of them in this world.

  7. WOW, I only really remember a couple of my teachers, mind you it has been a long time but I wouldn't say any of them impacted my life like yours have.

  8. I'm so glad that your first teacher wasn't able to dampen your love of writing. We had a similar writing exercise in year 11. My writing wasn't as emotive as I can make it now and so I didn't get a great mark on it. My teacher said that although he could see the potential for emotion, it felt like reading a newspaper article :/

  9. English was the only subject I loved at school, the only one I passed first time round while I was busy flunking out of everything else. Words have always come easily. I'm glad you didn't let that first teacher cramp your style!

  10. I was lucky to have some really good English teachers too. Mrs White was kind and lovely. Mrs Ryan served out tough love but you knew you had done well when you achieved a good mark from her. And Mr Cook was irreverant and fun and treated us like adults, He was my favourite. He was also my history teacher and ignited my love of history that followed me through uni and beyond. Great post Toni x