Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lessons from elementary school


When I was in elementary school in New Jersey, something happened that changed me forever.

Her name was Mrs. Lerner and she was my fourth grade teacher.

I started writing in fourth grade. Although I had written poetry in third grade, Mrs. Lerner encouraged us to write poetry and stories.  And I loved it.  Kept my writing between the lines and in a childlike script, wrote everything my overactive little mind could imagine.

Mrs. Lerner thought I was terrific.  She held up examples of my work as something others should imitate.  She pinned my stories and poems on the bulletin board.  You’d have thought that Mrs. Lerner had discovered Sylvia Plath was sitting in the third seat, second row over.

One year later, I had Mr. Gates for a teacher.  Mr. Gates thought my writing sucked. I went from the pinnacle of fourth grade success to the pitiless bottom of fifth grade suckiness.

That’s when I realized my final destiny — to be a writer.  To feel that pain again. That’s when I realized the reality of having others judge my writing — everyone has an opinion.

Two years after I graduated from Mr. Gates’ class, he checked himself into a mental institution.  I guess we all succeeded in doing what he always told us we would — we drove him crazy.

Maybe it was my writing...

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