I am sure she really meant no harm when she said, “You will never be a writer.”
The shock of the statement caused me to burn inside and I ached to prove her wrong. My sophomore English teacher failed to understand my punctuation and short sentences that often lacked complexity or my fascination with Tyburn poems.
“Rat-a-tat-tat,” she would write on my papers.
“Less poetry, more exposition,” she scrawled in big red letters.
Sentences consisting of subject-verb-object became my bread and butter; my go to sentence when I needed to clearly state a point. Ten years of television journalism proved a simple sentence often was all that was needed.
I felt pride in knowing Mrs. Bedwell was wrong.
Yet, I wasn’t really sure.
Writing 75 words a day for a crime story really doesn’t make for a deep writing career. The first day on the job as a science writer, I was assigned to write a 3,500 word story on a complex chemical reaction. I nearly left the Selectric II behind.
“How do I start?” I asked my new editor Kippie.
“Start by writing,” she had replied.
I still couldn’t begin. This was the first time I considered Mrs. Bedwell might have been right.
“You will never be a writer.”
The blank page turned brighter and I just stared at it until whiteness filed the room. I was pulled out of my brooding by a phone call.
“Just start,” Kippie, said through the speaker.
The typewriter clacked out the first word. Then the next. Soon there was a page of thoughts and sentences. Surprisingly, some of it seemed to flow and tell the story. It was rough.
“That’s what editors are for,” said Kippie, when I confessed it wasn’t very polished.
Who knows if I am the writer Mrs. Bedwell envisioned.
It doesn’t matter.
I am the writer I want to be.