(I love telling stories. It might be my favorite “style” of writing. It is, without a doubt, the stuff that most of my readers best respond to. This year, I want to tell you some stories about my past– about people who’ve made me who I am today. Some will be happy, some will be sad. Some you will find encouraging, some you will find maddening. But they all have one thing in common. They are all: People Who’ve Made Me Who I Am Today.)
I’ve already outed myself as a nerd-girl, growing up. I’m not ashamed of this fact.
I cruised through school for a very long time. While math and languages came to me with the greatest of ease, I also really enjoyed English and writing. It was all good, really. Well, everything but Social Studies. I couldn’t stand that darn class. I got good grades, but I found it so terribly tedious.
Still, as luck would have it, this was the first subject to come up on the “A.P. chain.” While most advanced placement classes were reserved for the senior year of high school, A.P. US History was a junior-level class.
And I got into it.
I actually enjoyed that class, though I still was bored to tears by the subject matter. I loved that we had finally culled out the brightest of the bright, if you will, and– finally!– being smart was cool.
We didn’t sit in rows in that class; we circled our desks. We used lots of courtesy and etiquette, but we didn’t raise our hands in a typical “Q & A” format. Discussion, debate, deconstruct– we were real thinkers and I loved that.
Still, don’t forget– I didn’t like the subject matter. I found it dull and dry and had no real interest in investing much time in studying it. When our first essay came due? I did what I always did– I relied on my vast vocabulary, lyrical writing style, and strong grasp of language.
My paper was returned to me with a shovel drawn on the top.
My teacher, Mr. McG., was the first to call me on it. He was the first to straight out say to me:
“Your vocabulary is vast, your grammar is impeccable, your sentence structure is impressive– next time, I’d like to be able to dig some actual facts out of it.”
I remember my initial response was indignation. My cheeks flared. “How dare he…”
But you know what? Mr. McG. made me a better writer. He paired me with someone on whose paper he had written, “Your knowledge of details and dates is impressive; next time, work on fluidity and polish.”
Not surprisingly, he and I were good for one another.
I still don’t love history. It never was, and likely never will be, my favorite subject. Remember– I’m the girl who attributes most of her U.S. History knowledge to that learned from reading Sunfire novels.
But I won’t forget that year of high school…
Thanks for making me a more persuasive writer, Mr. McG.
Other people who’ve made me who I am: