My Year 12 English teacher was one of those lovely, scary women who change the way you see the world forever. She reigned over the class with a girlish voice and greying hair pulled tightly into a bun. She blushed over the risque parts of our VCE texts, but even more so over a negligent spelling error. Leaving out a comma or using slang would elicit a look that made you feel like a naughty toddler.
We were taught that correct grammar was important, that punctuation mattered, and that flawless spelling was of the utmost importance. The essays I wrote that year were so beautifully crafted that I now have difficulty believing that I wrote them. As much as we complained and misbehaved, we delivered our best because Mrs Gordon expected it of us, and she believed we could achieve it.
This goes some way to explain why these days I have difficulty reading Facebook status updates without wincing. I itch to correct glaring spelling mistakes. Don’t get me started on the their/they’re/there issues.
It also explains why this blog exists. During my high school years I learned to love writing; to love language and words and to use semi-colons appropriately (sometimes). At times I wrote straight from the deepest places of my teenage soul. Paragraphs full of emotion; sentences tumbling over each other in the excitement of just being written down.
I have discovered that in the past fifteen years I’ve lost the ability to write with such abandonment and honesty. Perhaps it was my scientific university education that made my words stand up straight and behave. Maybe a lack of practice caused my writing muscles to waste away, disused and neglected.
In ‘If You Want To Write’ Brenda Euland writes:
But this joyful, imaginative, impassioned energy dies out of us very young. Why? Because we do not see that it is great and important. Because we let dry obligation take its place. Because we don’t respect it in ourselves and keep it alive by using it. And because we don’t keep it alive in others by listening to them.
This blog is my gym, of sorts. A place to exercise those parts of my grey matter that once were strong, and now are withered and weak. I write to remember, I write to forget, to forgive. I write to look backward and to look forward. I write for the stories. I write for me, and I write for you.
What skills have you lost as you’ve become older and more sensible? Is it time to reclaim them?