Thursday, February 15, 2007

Deviant Confessions


Listening Fields.

Rob Gonsalves.

Acrylic on canvas.


Reading many writer's bios makes my ears droop.

Seems I may lack a fundamental characteristic to be a Real Writer.

Seems nearly everyone but me wanted to be a writer from age five.

I don't remember for sure, but I think about that age I wanted to be a cowgirl. Or a nurse. Or a hunter.

The ballerina, singer, and actress ambitions came later.

I did write the odd thing - poems, and began, but did not finish, a Nancy Drew imitation called The Secret of the Snake Bracelet.

At least I had the title trope down pat.

Don't think the story survived past the introduction of the suspicious, swarthy stranger. I realized I had never met any.

I won a writing contest in Grade Eight - but that was for penmanship - which is pretty dorky. At least practising for that made my writing legible. Which it hadn't been to that point. But who needs that now? Even X for a signature is almost superfluous these days.

And I won third in an art contest at the County Fair.

But no writing triumphs. Book reports and essays don't count.

My ambitions focused on reading. Every and anything I could get my hands on. I wanted to read everything in the Whole World.

I had read the Complete Works of Shakespeare by age twelve, but that doesn't really count either, because most writers, it seems, finished War and Peace by the time they were nine. Or earlier.

However, there is no danger I will afflict some agent with a query that states I have dreamed of being a writer since I was five.

29 comments:

KateGladstone said...

I wouldn't call legible handwriting unnecessary these days. Among the hospitals that call me in to prevent medication errors (by giving handwriting classes to the doctors), a fairly high percentage claim to have "computerized everything" 1 or 2 or 5 or more years ago … yet they still have handwriting problems, because of a crucial 1% to 5% of handwritten documentation that just won't go away.

Doctors in "totally computerized" hospitals still scribble Post-Its to slap onto the walls of the nurse's station, still scrawl notes on the cuffs of their scrubs during impromptu elevator/corridor conferences with colleagues … and, most of all, doctors with computer systems often have the ward clerks operate the computers, use the Net, or whatever: working, of course, from the doctors' illegible handwriting.
Bad doctor handwriting, incorrectly deciphered by ward clerks using the computer for any purpose, thereby enters the computerized medical record.

And what happens when disasters knock out a hospital's network? More than one hospital, during Hurricane Katrina, lost its generator, its electric power — and therefore its computer system — for the duration.
Even the computer-savviest staffers in the disaster zone had to use pens. Let's hope they wrote legibly.

And — you can still enter a penmanship contest. Hey, you won once — you may win again. The World Handwriting Contest (which I direct) has competition for all age-groups — prizes for the adults include luxury high-end fountain pens. Give it a try! (see below for URLs)


Kate Gladstone
CEO, Handwriting Repair handwriting improvement service
Director, World Handwriting Contest
http://learn.to/handwrite
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, NEW YORK 12208-1731
518-482-6763
handwritingrepair@gmail.com

Bernita said...

Erm.
Thank you, Kate.
However I am quite happy with my hand writing - bastard italic form that it may be, and deviant from the MacLean's(?) method I first mastered.
It's my writing content that needs to "win."

Ric said...

I could never get my penmanship grade above a B+, so I gave up.

At 5, I wanted to be a doctor. At 10, it was architect. Writing didn't come until 18.

Though in 9th grade, I discovered I could get the attention of classmates by writing stories with them in compromising positions. And, in my senior year, in response to "What do you want to do in life?" - my essay caused such an uproar, I ended up in front of the superintendent of schools - and he wasn't happy.

We all come here by different roads. What we pause to examine and enjoy along the way colours our prose. Your path is tinted with your special touch, as it should be.

Bailey Stewart said...

I didn't even think about writing a story until I was around 16, before that I wanted to be Mrs. Donny Osmond. I've wanted to be an actress, singer, teacher - all long before I wanted to be a writer.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric!
"What we pause to examine and enjoy along the way colours our prose."
That is a very important point to remember.
Your mark in handwriting doesn't matter at all now does it?
Don't tell me you were into a little narrative blackmail in high school!

Bernita said...

That comforts me, Bailey.

Ric said...

It is amazingly easy to embarrass/scandelize fellow 14 year olds by placing them in the backseat with someone they only dream about. Imagine your mortification at that age, reading how you kissed THAT boy?

By my senior year in our small town high school, the administration just wanted me gone. Shortly after the time I figured out I was way smarter than they were and told them so.

Took til I got to college to get knocked down a peg or two - then my real education began.

Jaye said...

You know the thing is a lot of people "dream" of being a writer, from five to ninety-five. Some of these people will actually become writers. Other will continue to dream about it, but they will never DO it. In the end it's the doing that matters.

December Quinn said...

I wanted to be a writer when I was five.

I also wanted to be a housewife, a race-car driver, a doctor, a model, and a preacher ("so everyone would have to listen to me.")

I think Jaye is right. It's only the people who still want to be writers who think there's any significance in having wanted to be a writer as a child. At one point in my childhood I (quite seriously) thought of being a prostitute--everybody seemed to enjoy the actual act, and it meant I could stay up late--and even planned to work my way up to Madam. While this plan may have some odd relevance today, the fact remains that only if I had actually become a prostitute would it actually mean anything.

Robyn said...

I don't think I ever "wanted to be a writer." I just made up a lot of stories. So did my friends. I think that's called being kids, right?

Sela Carsen said...

LOL December! During my younger, more hungry years, I figured I'd make a half-decent courtesan (it sounded sooooo much classier than prostitute -- talking about over-romanticizing sex!). Yep. All I needed was the right sugar-daddy. That plan, thankfully, never went anywhere. It's tough to find sugar-daddies in Idaho.

And when I was 5, I wanted to be an actress or a singer. When I was 10, I wanted to be a vet. When I was 15, I was back to actress and that lasted until I was 20.

A year later I was taking 4 writing classes at once and discovering I could actually do this. Didn't even think of fiction, though, for another 10 years after that.

Gabriele C. said...

At 5, I wanted to be a warrior. And who knows, if women had been allowed in the fighting units in the German army when I was the age to make a choice, I might have joined. But studying about everything except maths was fun, too.

I wrote as teenager, but then stopped for 20 years until I took it up by chance when I was 40.

My handwriting resembles 'dried up earthworms writhing with stomach ache' (my father) and 'no matter whether you write Latin, Greek or runes, it all looks like cuneiforms' (a fellow student). So it's no surprise my father sent me to a typing course age 12, and I'm glad he did.

MissWrite said...

I actually wanted to be an artist first, although I did drag any and everyone available into my little 'dramas' and spent all my free time alone either reading or 'daydreaming' stories. It was bound to be I suppose.

anna said...

Laughing. I never finished War and Peace! and still not quite sure I want to be a writer

Bernita said...

Well, damn, my post disappeared!

Sounds you had a cruel streak, Ric.

That's an important distinction, Jaye and December.

That leaves me far behind, Robyn. I neither made up stories or wrote them down.
Instead I was a sponge for other people's tales.

Courtesan is a much classier word, Sela. All those archdukes and things...

I've often wondered the same about me, Gabriele, if it had been an option.

Bernita said...

Daydreaming stories. I did that, Tami. Of course I was the heroine in them all.

Finished, Anna? I never started it, because someone told me I must. For sure, you are a poet.

J.H. Bográn said...

Well, at five I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. When I realized girls were not the enemy I wanted to be Han Solo! Writing never came to me as a profession, hell it still doesn't now, even after one book published. Buy hey I was 34 when I got published the first time so I'd never claim I wanted it to be a writer since I was 5. That'd mean I'm such a loser or that I sucked big time to take me 29 years to finally publish something!
I never got beyong a C+ in penmanship, but did learn to type with all fingers by the time 7th grade.

raine said...

Guilty as charged. I wanted to be a writer.
That changed now and then as I considered other professions, of course. At one point I even thought of becoming a nun. Fortunately, I had serious issues with the doctrine, and even more serious problems with authority. :-D

And I still refuse to read War and Peace.

Great painting, btw!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to be a horse.
Then when I discovered (to my dismay) I wasn't going to transform, I got up off my hands and knees and decided to be a pain in the ass.
(Success has been bittersweet...)
I didn't ever want to be a writer. (I wanted to do something that would make me financially independant.) I'm writing until I decide what I want to be when I grow up.
;-D
Sam

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I never got all the way through Shakespeare or War and Peace, so I guess i should give up all together...uh, er...NOT!

Keep writing, I think you've got a writers heart...and mentality :-)

Bernita said...

I wonder what the average age for first novel publication is, Jose.
Don't think I would describe someone who doesn't get published until then as a "loser."

Yes, Raine, a true example of magic realism, perhaps.

At least you weren't mulish about it, Sam!

Thank you, Bonnie. When I read these bios I feel very much an outsider.

For Sela and December:
A comic routine involved a little girl asking what a prostitute was.
She was told it was a "bad lady who went to be without her clothes."
So that night the little girl put all her clothes on, sweaters, shoes, etc.
She decided in the morning it was more comfortable being a bad lady.

Erik Ivan James said...

I never did dream of becoming a writer. I always wanted to be a pilot or a vet.

I've always loved books, though. Hmmm...now I'm wondering why I got such shitty grades in high school...um, since I loved books so much. ~laughing~ I wonder if the quote under my senior picture should have given me a hint?: "He would rather have the morning after, than never have had the night before."

writtenwyrdd said...

Ah Bernita, people exaggerate. And if they aren't exaggerating, their reading Tolstoy at five or desiring to be Stephen King at eight doesn't mean they have any greater range on talent. Perhaps these things are just indications that they love the written word maybe almost as much as you appear to.

I am looking forward to hearing more about the woman in the zombie story, too.

Bernita said...

Cigareets, 'n whiskey, 'n wild, wild wimmen, eh, Erik?

You are saying they exaggerate to make themselves interesting, Written, to make it sound as if they were born to be writers.
Thank you, I might post a little more.

EA Monroe said...

I wanted to be a detective, like Sherlock. I fingerprinted everyone in my class and kept their "ID" cards on file. Might've come in handy back in the old days if any kids in my class ever came up missing.

writtenwyrdd said...

Well, Bernita, it's (IMO) probably a mix of exaggerating to make themselves feel/appear more important and just the natural human tendency to exaggerate.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hmm. At 5, I think I wanted to be a mommy to my doll, Suzy. Later, an architect (like Ric). Then in junior high, I decided I wanted to be a writer. As an undergrad, I decided I better get into something to earn a paycheck and went into speech pathology.

I became interested in Shakespeare in about the 6th grade. Used to force my brother to act out the plays with me. Then, later, Liz and I acted them out.We really put on a dandy "Hamlet." The back porch was our stage.

And, as to handwriting, my 7th grade teacher told me that with handwriting like mine, I would never make it through college! Well, I made it through and then some anyway! But I do wish I had better handwriting.

I think I was a story teller, though, early on. Had to entertain mom and brother when times were rough, and they would always ask me to "tell a story." Well, it kept us occupied!

Donnetta

spyscribbler said...

Argh! I didn't know this syndrome affected the writing world, too! I remember hating that every good pianist started piano at age 4. Drove me crazy, having started at the appalling age of 10. (Which is appalling, now that I know better, LOL.)

Still, you read early. That's all that matters. :-)

I kinda had it in the back of my head, but I never really brought it out to a real thought until I was doing it. Then it was like an "of course!" feeling.

I lost a writing contest in 8th grade. Not for penmanship, either.

Bernita said...

That's creative, Elizabeth!
Some youthful ambitions die because eventually one realizes there is no scope for them beyond the preliminaries.

I can see exaggeration for humourous effect, Written.
But simple bullshit, no.

Before that contest, Donnetta, my handwriting was indecipherable.Taking notes in college tended to corrupt it all over again.

Geese, I hated those stories about the child prodigy, Natasha.
Think my development was much like yours.