In high school most of my friends took Honors and AP classes, but I chose to stay on the “regular” education track because grades were not that important to me. I just wanted to do enough to be eligible to play softball. However, there was one class that I enjoyed and for which I was willing to put forth effort: 9th grade Honors English.
Mr. Eckley was a burly man with a loud voice that intimidated all of the incoming freshman. But there was something about his passion for the subject that intrigued me. He gave us a reading list and I was anxious to read every suggested book, although we only had to choose one. The first required reading assignment, Of Mice and Men, took me a short time to finish. I enjoyed the class discussions we had about this book and couldn’t wait for the next assignment.
During the next lesson he wanted us to focus on our writing skills. He assigned a short piece of fiction called The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell. Our assignment was to write a 10 sentence summary of this story. I thought this would be an easy task, and when I submitted my first draft I felt confident that it was worthy of an “A.” But when he returned my paper there were more red marks than my original words and the top was labeled with an “F.” He let me revise this draft and the final paper was returned with a grade of “C-.” I was devastated. My dream of becoming a writer was crushed.
I started writing when I was 11 years old. I documented every day of my life, including things I ate, places I visited, and feelings I had. Since I was grounded most of my middle and high school life (and this was pre-21st century technology luxuries), I had nothing to do BUT read and write.
In addition to writing about my daily life, I also began writing short stories. I wrote about things and people who meant the most to me. For instance, I was very close with my pap-pap Briel. I spent hours listening to his stories and eating pop-cycles with him on the back porch swing. But in the winter of 1989 he became so sick he was bed ridden and I watched him rapidly deteriorate until he had a massive heart attack on December 10th and died.
This was my first experience with death and I was heart broken. I decided to write a story about him, called Gone, But Not Forgotten, and this proved to be therapeutic. I then continued to write stories about my friends, softball, places I traveled, etc. When I ran out of non-fiction ideas, I started to make up stories. I would spend countless hours in my bedroom writing. It was my sanctuary. I never shared any of these stories or journals, but I have them all securely stored. When I die I hope someone will take the time to read them!
In addition to this blog, I still write in my journal every so often and continue to write short stories. I still have a dream to become a published writer (my dissertation was published, but who the hell wants to read about educational technology?). I have submitted samples to Sports Illustrated, the CrossFit Box magazine, and the CrossFit Journal. I don’t expect any replies, but at least I know I tried!
As I mentioned above, writing is therapeutic for me. I don’t write to please a particular audience. I am writing these blogs to help pass the time during my knee recovery. It is definitely helping!
QUESTION for you (post a response in the comment box on here or FB):
For my next writing project, which of the following would you most enjoy reading?
1. Driving in the Left Lane (things that annoy you)
2. Mental aspect of being an athlete
3. My dating sagas
4. Teaching stories
5. My travel experiences