I started writing in junior high. They were terrible Mary Sue fantasies, in which I dated the Beatles and the Bay City Rollers, even though I’d never been to a concert and only guessed what might happen backstage. One of my best friends was a BCR fan, so I was, too, even if I’d never heard their music. Everything I knew I learned from Tiger Beat.
By high school, I’d moved on to writing Star Wars fanfic, even if the term fanfic hadn’t been coined yet. A group of us read each other’s stories, spun off of each other’s plotlines. I felt I was moving forward as a writer.
Then Paul got into Ms. Perrone’s Creative Writing class. You had to be a 10th grader. I was so envious. I couldn’t wait to be old enough, even though Paul struggled with the homework. In addition to the class assignments, you had to keep a journal and write five pages a week. I thought I could do that on my head.
The class, when I finally got in, was everything I’d dreamed. We took fiction apart, working on dialog one week, description the next. Ms. Perrone encouraged me, supported me, and challenged me, even though I was writing a high fantasy haunted house story, heavily influenced by Lord of the Rings and The Haunting of Hell House.
Keeping the journal was the best part of the class. Ms. Perrone actually read everyone’s notebooks, leaving checks or smiley faces or brief praise in the margins. For the first time, I got a taste of what it might be like to write for an audience beyond my friends.
Even in these days of laptops and handheld devices, I still carry a spiral-bound notebook. It can go everywhere with me. I’m comfortable opening it in places where I would hesitate to carry a computer. I don’t have to worry about it getting dusty or having coffee spilled on it. Besides, having a full-size paper notebook in your bag helps teach writing. People are just not used to the sight of someone physically writing down their thoughts. The kids at my daughter’s elementary school were literally shocked to see me writing in a book. I felt I was setting a good example.
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I located my Creative Writing teacher again. On my wall page, she told me -- and the world -- how proud she was of me. I was able to tell her how huge an influence she had on me. She was the first person who told me that I could grow up to be a writer someday. Then she gave me the tools to do it. I still carry one with me every day. I just can’t that her enough for that.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports