Friday, October 21, 2016

My Least Favorite Part of English Class #PNIWritingChallenge Day 5

When I was younger, the one thing I really hated about English class, (or Language Arts as it was called in elementary school) was diagramming sentences. I would write sentences all day. Read them? Absolutely. But I didn't want a damn thing to do with diagramming them. I always thought they were good the way they were. Just leave the sentences alone.


Now that I'm an adult, what do I do for a living? I'm an author and an editor. What does that mean? It means that I diagram sentences. The irony is not lost on me. It's the same thing but it's not? I hated it then and love it now? I'm not sure which it is. I love being an author and an editor, so either way, it works for me.

There wasn't really anything I hated about English class while I was in high school. Was it monotonous at times? Sure, but I didn't mind being guided so much back then. If wasn't in gym class or doing Algebra, I was happy. 

I was introduced to a lot of amazing literature and got the chance to write while in school - although I didn't get to write nearly as much as I wanted to. I was the geek who actually loved Monday essays for Mr. Dallas in senior year. He'd give us three topics and we'd have forty minutes to write a three point essay about one of them. I didn't always like the topics, but I never minded the writing part. Hell, I even loved writing the ten page paper on Victorian literature. I've already covered the fact that I'm a geek, right?

College. Some bad stuff happened in my life between the ages of 18 and 21. One of those bad things caused me to drop out of college the first time. When I went back, I wasn't as passive as I'd been my first go around. I wasn't a badass, mind you. I'm still not, although sometimes I like to pretend that I am. I fought for my grades, though, and I had one English professor that drove my blood pressure way up. His name was May, and we butted heads on many occasions.

One paper in particular really stands out. It was about my dad, so I was already fired up about it. I can't remember what the exact topic was, but I do recall feeling like I couldn't get around it. Instead of backing away from it, I decided to take a deep breath and charge right in. I know I have the graded essay somewhere. I'm positive that I saved it, but when I looked for it this morning it wasn't among the other handful of papers May and I argued over.  

When I wrote about how much my dad drank, May didn't believe me. When I wrote about some of the things that had happened in his house, May wrote "Highly suspect" in the margin. Because this essay was not a work of fiction, I took offense. It wasn't my writing style or ability this professor called into question - his notes on that would have been helpful. I probably wouldn't have liked it, but I was there to learn. That would have at least made me a better writer. He wasn't questioning how well I wrote, but whether or not what I was writing was the truth. Life with my father was a scary, fantastical adventure - something I didn't have to elaborate or dress up. In fact, there are things that took place between the two of us that no one will ever hear about. It's the stuff I don't write about that's really messed up.  

May wound up giving me an A for his class. He handed out notes to everyone at the end of the semester, and I remember exactly what he wrote to me. He told me that he didn't agree with a lot of my subject matter, and that we had a lot of differing opinions about the things I was assigned  to write about - but he told me he thought I was a talented writer. He told me I'd probably become a very successful author someday. He also told me he'd probably never buy or read a single one of my books.

Is it wrong that this made me laugh out loud? It still makes me smile when I think about it. Especially when I sit down to diagram all of those sentences - written by both myself and others.