When I was in middle school I began to really like writing. I would scribble poetry onto my lined notebooks during history class or while waiting for choir rehearsal to start. I never knew if it was really any good I just knew I liked the words to flow out onto the paper. I was also happy when I was writing my feelings in my journal and I kept one all through my middle school and high school years and even into college, when I met my now husband.
As a school girl the only time my writing ever saw the light of day was in English class. I actually enjoyed writing essays for other classes as well as short stories, but at that time poetry was my primary avenue for writing.
On occasion we were encouraged to read a piece out loud to the class and I had a bit of an out-of-body experience one day as I raised my hand to volunteer. I usually just sat back and listened, never wanting to read my writing since I was too afraid of the critique and criticism I might receive. But I really liked this poem I had written and I felt compelled to share it.
Here is the poem I read:
A young housewife sends the kids off to school,
only to head the call of the liquor cabinet
While leisurely sitting on one of his lemons,
Is the convincing car salesman
Who in minutes will receive a call
telling him his mother has died,
and realizing he does have feelings,
he will quit his job
In the distance the faint bark of a
lonesome or hungry or cold dog
But does anyone hear him
Only the ragged woman who
Dangerously beats him-
He shall never bark again
Far away in the distance lies the
immensely wealthy gentleman
and his wife, by money, not love,
Delicately decorates her neck with a
Singles strand of pearls
Lastly, in a town of one thousand,
Sits the wife’s regretful parents
Today they celebrate their fiftieth
Wedding anniversary, without her
Together they rest on the loveseat,
Commenting on childhood pictures,
Wishing they knew her now
And two thousand miles away sits a
Rusty, broken-down `57 Chevy,
Driven by them all
And filled with the scents of
liquor, dirty deals, cheap perfume and chocolate chip cookies
I was flabbergasted as the room fell silent after I finished speaking the last line. It was like everyone was holding their breath. All I could think was that they hated it.
And then they all started to clap and holler.
I was floored.
Once the clapping was over my teacher spoke up. (this is the best I can recall what she said, of course it’s not verbatim)
“Elaine,” she said. “That was really good! I’m so proud of you for reading aloud. I mean, it was REALLY, really good!”
This was my junior year in high school and even after that experience I still kept my writing under wraps for the most part. Only my teachers saw my assignments. I was just never that comfortable with others reading what I wrote.
And now, years later, I discovered this place here, The Red Dress Club, and it feels really good to put my writing out there for you all to read. I mean, life is too short to sit on the sidelines and I know I can write, even if I’m not the most skillful or “best” writer out there, I’m proud of the words I put to paper (or screen in most cases these days).
Sometimes I think I was better as a “young writer” but I try not to focus on the past that much and remember that I still have many stories and poems inside of me now.
Do you feel like you wrote differently when you were younger? How do you feel your writing has evolved over the years? I’m curious to know…
Elaine blogs at The Miss Elaine-ous Life and can be found on twitter too!