I know. It's been QUITE a while since I've written here. In my own defense, which, honestly, is not much of one, I've been more self-reflective than I have been outwardly reflective. Anyway, I was reading this article about Taylor Swift and it sparked something in me (as good writing usually does), so I felt the need to sit down and actually WRITE something for a change.
As many of you know, Paris Review is one of my absolute favorites. Take a peek at the article here. Finished? This article, especially this line,
And so I chose a different kind of life, a smaller one where I could think before I spoke and then my words would be loud enough to last on a printed page. See, I do have a platform. I’m a writer. And there is so much revenge I’d like to get, so many scores to settle, but I’m older now and see so clearly the consequences of putting something in print.
is all the things.
This quotation brought me back to sixth grade to a time when I realized the effect that words and writing have on people. To set the scene: I was teased mercilessly in middle school. Everyday, all day, and what felt like all the time. I think either the teachers felt like this needless bullying was a waste of their time to stop, or threw up their hands in surrender, but after a while, they stopped interceding on my behalf. Perhaps they felt that it was getting to the point that if they stepped in, I would never learn to stand up for myself, but I fantasized about that righteous moment where I would tell the bully the perfect one-liner, everyone would cheer, and I would never be picked on again.
One day, in my sixth grade English class, I had just been picked on and, my teacher, Mr. Fitz brushed off the offense, much to my chagrin. He then ordered the entire class to write short stories. For the record, BIG mistake. HUGE. I felt righteous anger as I scribbled words onto the page. My story was a sarcastic re-telling of the incident where my teacher had been re-named "Mr. Einstein". I cannot remember any of the other details of what I'd written (shocking, I know), but I remember feeling like I finally had an outlet to say all of those one-liners that I'd wanted to say. But...as you can tell from that re-naming of the teacher, the tone of the story was less than pleasant.
After giving us about 30 minutes to write these short stories, Mr. Fitz read each story one by one, while all (15) of us read quietly. I could tell the exact moment he got to my story. His eyes bulged out of his face and he turned a deep red color. I felt terror--real terror--in only the way that a sixth grader can feel. I was certain that he would march me out into the hall and give me the riot act. Instead, he laughed the loudest belly laugh that I think I had ever witnessed from him at that point. He made a few corrections and shook his head in laughter. When he handed back the blue books he said to me, "You have to read that aloud to the class. It is hilarious." He also apologized for not taking the incident seriously before.
And, that's when it hit me. Not only did my teacher find my story hilarious, but, because of the crudely written re-telling, he understood my feelings in a way that my speech and my facial expression, couldn't explain before. It was a lot of perceived power for a sixth grader to yield and, thus, sparked an interest in writing for me.