Not really knowing where to go with this week’s blog I started thinking over how it actually came about that I could wear the official ‘Published Author’ badge (even if it is homemade – it has glitter!)
And I realised that, unsurprisingly, my teachers played a great role in getting me here. Not just by teaching me to read, write and construct a sentence, but by egging me on by their positive and negative comments. I will include the ones who were negative about it, as they were mostly right when they said you can’t be an author for a living and expect a lot of money, so focus on getting a real job Janis! But I am stubborn and therefore enjoyed being a pain in their side by continuing to write my stories. I had to. I exist therefore I write.
Then there were those fabulous teachers who encouraged me from the word go and I will just name drop Mr Williams right here as he will always be the first supporter of what I love to do. Yes, back then (from the age of about ten) my writing approach was a little odd, but he encouraged it and helped it grow and bloom. Without him letting me draw metres of pictures on old computer printing paper that I then translated into words, without him letting me scrunch and screw up my paper as I liked the feel of it that way more than flat and sterile… I’d not be what I now am. Without him just letting me write when I had no other school work left to do (and it usually shut me up), would I have ever felt so free to just write because I had to?
Through my schooling years other teachers did their best to just ensure I stuck to the curriculum and only wrote what was required of me. But they didn’t always stop me from slipping that extra note book out to disappear into once I’d done their required work and was waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. When I was able to start using loose leaf sheets of paper in high school – woo hoo! They could never always tell when I was madly scribbling down their notes off the board and when I was just madly scribbling down what the voices in my head were saying and doing. I was a C+/ B- student and away a lot due to illness. They got what they got from me. 🙂
Here I dearly want to thank my English teachers of high school – Mrs Raymond, Mrs Christie, Ms Kallum and dear Mrs Reid – who copped me at my most eccentric and got my best ever Dave Lister impersonation when I was made to read a book review as the main character. I do still feel I must apologise for my descriptive prose with the dead rat in it. You told me to explore all the senses with that one and I was kind of into Regency feasts with a twist at the time. It wasn’t every day you saw a teacher physically pale when reading your work and just know she’d found the rat. So – sorry!
Not every one of these high school teachers encouraged me to be a writer. Far from it, as the majority of them were just trying to get me through high school with good enough grades to get into a decent university course and therefore be out of their hair and off their books. All the same, you encouraged me to be who I was and to love writing and not be afraid to feel the poetry we were learning with its soft sorrow or to mimic an author’s prose to better my own. Most of you despaired at my overly pretty cursive writing riddled with horrific grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. But you never made me put my stories away just suggested I learnt a real job first. And so, thank you all.
This thanks doesn’t just go out to the English teachers of my high school days. In fact, coming from the background I did, being the fourth family member they were educating and, quite frankly, them having to deal with an arrogant, bored and lost half adult – though mostly child – that I was, this is a thanks to them all. Their attempts to educate me, though often futile, did help me be the person I am. From the cow dissections to the mistake one physics teacher made by letting me near sodium and water, you let me be who I was and learn while doing it. As for the sodium… well, the science teachers knew of my family background in science and knew I knew what happened when you put sodium into water as I’d seen my dad do it to classes of university students many times. What my poor dear science teacher didn’t realise was after lunch I was usually in a bored and mischievous mood. And, yes I did indeed know what sodium did in water, and what happened when it was a largish piece of sodium dropped into a rather small glass beaker of water. I could move fast back then too. 😉 Should I mention this was also the science teacher quoted for telling me ‘a pig’s heart was not a muppet and cannot sing nor dance’? Yeah, that was an after lunch class too.
But I digress, I really just wanted to say thank you for letting me be who I was. As frustratingly annoying as that was. You didn’t try and squash writing out of me completely, you just tried to make me put it to one side until life was better suited to tinkering with it. And despite never finishing high school due to illness, you were right. I never gave up on writing, despite the education system giving up on me for a while. I went out and got myself that real job in IT and turned my love of writing into a career… just don’t tell my former bosses I only write fiction as some of those User documents are just brilliant. And never get me to take the minutes for the meetings, as potassium and pig’s hearts turned into dead horses and, when the season was right, Christmas carols. At least I proved no one reads minutes from meetings. 🙂
So, I am now a published author, homemade badge with glitter and all, and if it wasn’t for those early years of encouragement and forced education, I doubt I would have held on to my desire for so long and never given up on the actual writing side of things.
To those who were paid to teach me, to those who just helped me learn how to be who I am and never give up on writing – Thank You!
Feel free to name drop. 😉
Until next time,
Janis Hill XXOO