I love the whole idea of a National Day on Writing, which is today, October 19, 2012. Writing has a big-time presence in my life as I launch my personal historian business where I am capturing stories and legacies. Admittedly, I am going to reveal my era! As I look back to my childhood, some of the first memories I have of writing will forever be etched in my mind. The thick leaded pencil with its forest green exterior and topped with a hardy pink eraser was paired with a red Big Chief tablet of ruled paper in preparing me to learn the craft of writing. As a kindergartener, I toted these trusty items in my brown zippered portfolio (no I did not have a pocket protector as a teen) and clamored aboard the big yellow school bus, taking these writing tools to and from school with me. Admittedly, they frequently came out on the school bus, where I would doodle with a neighbor girl to create some pretty silly pictures by the time I dismounted the bus. Fast-forward to 2012 and in contrast, I carefully zip my personal computer laptop into its protective padded fabric “skin” and then slip it into my canvas briefcase to accompany me to a nearby coffee shop for a writing session. On long road trips, I have the appropriate adapter that keeps my laptop powered to 100% so that I may write or even edit photos while in the passenger seat.
In retrospect, I received so much satisfaction in carefully printing my name across the top of a sheet of paper. It was indeed a proud achievement, and especially when Miss Foster, my kindergarten teacher, would display it along with my classmates’ work, on the cinder block walls of Longfellow Elementary School in time for parent visits. As time passed, words and sentences accompanied colorful Crayola-created illustrations, which helped to enrich my story or thoughts. It would be a generation later that I would also see my children do so in similar fashion until they approached 2nd-5th grades. It was at this pivotal time that our world moved to computer technology in the schools. While their messages were there, instead of the typical lead-pencil renditions, perfectly printed letters in thick font captured the story. Then the stories were printed off on the classroom printer through the magic of software. Today, my grown children and I often stay in touch via text messages, Facebook posts, or emails. These are nearly instantaneous forms of letter-writing and communication, but of course without the pencil and paper method. Instead of illustrations to accompany their messages, I look forward to Instagrams or forwarded images saved from memory disks.
On this National Day on Writing, I would like to express my gratitude for those who trained me in the gift of writing as a way to communicate with others. My parents and elementary teachers, who helped me carefully master the capital and lower-case alphabet letters in my name. My junior high teacher, Miss Abel, who patiently reviewed the important structures of a sentence through laborious sentence diagrams. My college professors, who instilled the desire to write as a form of expression, whether sharing my opinion or my research. And, lastly, to my memoir writing instructor in Denver, who encouraged a thoughtful approach for capturing life stories.
Alas, here is to the gift of writing! Writing as with reading can take one on adventures to places near or far, to scenes simple or involved, and to spaces in our minds or in our hearts.
As you look back over your life, feel free to share recollections of learning to write. I’d love to learn your story!