Words are awesome

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?


7 thoughts on “Words are awesome

  1. My spelling is awful (I tried atrocious, I’m sure it is spelled wrong) I am poor on punctiation and I never know when to end or start a new paragraph. I never had a strict teacher. If not for microsoft word and my sister-in-law (taught by a Miss Grundy) to edit much of my writing I would not even attempt my blog. If not for my laptop I could not even read what I do write.

    Thank you new technology.
    Cranky Old Man

  2. This post describes me perfectly. I wanted to be a writer when i was younger, then i was encouraged into a science stream because there is more jobs in that field, so i was told. I still have a dream to be a writer…albeit a small one, but i have fear, that no one would read what i write or that i would bore people….time to get over that and write because i want to…thanks Tam

  3. I lost my ability to write fiction.

    When I was in High School, I used to churn out notebooks and notebooks of stories, and I loved every single one of them. When I finished the HSC, life and it’s ugly side got in the way, and through all the sadness, my stories just disappeared.

    I am starting to recapture this skill, through my sister blog http://www.blackcatandweathers.blogspot.com, a fictional blog where I am posting entries as my main character, Charlotte Weathers. This is my literary excercise, an experiment which I am very happy with at this moment in time.

    I have to say this as well, your writing is beautiful, and your blog is simplistic and gorgeous. I look forward to reading what you post for us to read in the future!

  4. My Dad was an English subject master. We couldn’t open our mouth without being corrected! It was a good thing given I decided to have a career that involved writing. I’m the first to admit, though, that I’m not perfect. I review my work on my blog but still find errors days later … then I do the self wince!

  5. Oh I know I have so many mistakes, though I blame the majority of them on auto correct.
    I should make more of an effort to proof read though.

    I was just saying to someone else today how she should start blogging again, and she had no idea what she would write about. I suggested she just do it for the same reasons you said. Practice it, stretch it, and get better at it.

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