Writing

Discouragement

  • September 27, 2015
stand-here

3:365 – Stand Here. by meddygarnet on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

My earliest memory of discouragement happened when I was in 5th grade.  I clearly remember having two teachers that year; one teacher I thought was amazing, while the other, I tried to avoid as much as I possibly could.  Some might wonder how I remember these things; truth be told, I remember everything.  In the moment in question, the 5th grade teacher whom I disliked called me to the front of the class and told me that I would be receiving a 0 on my book report simply because I had ignored the margin on one side.  When I explained that I needed more room to write my thoughts, the teacher said that if whatever I had written went beyond the margin, then it wasn’t worth reading.  This kind of discouragement followed me throughout my school years, and beyond.

Throughout my school years, I had a mixed bag of various teachers, though none of them were supportive nor disapproving of my writing.  It was a period of time which was simply pass/fail, “rubber stamp” system.

In 11th grade, my high school English teacher would present my writing to the class as an example of crappy writing.  Writing, that for whatever reason, was a perfect example of amphigory.  So up until this point in my life, I had faced nothing but discouragement whenever it came to my writing.  I don’t believe I will ever know if my teacher was using this discouragement to inspire me to improve my writing skills, or if he was simply trying to stifle my writing completely.

I sometimes wonder if my 11th grade English teacher ever bothered to read anything I wrote, or if he was just so taken with the idea that no matter what I wrote, it wasn’t anything special.  At this point, it really makes little or no difference to me whatsoever; it’s wasteful and useless to ask such a moot question for which there will never be an definitive answer.

My 11th grade English teacher became so out of control that by the end of the school year, he was sending complaint letters to my parents on a somewhat regular basis, bashing my writing and threatening to fail me in his class because my writing, as far as he was concerned, was sub-par.

Eventually, copies of the letters, and samples of my writing reached the English Department Chairman, and I immediately secured a seat in highly coveted Honors English Class in my senior year of high school.  It was in my senior year of High School, that I also secured a seat in the exclusive Independent Study Computer Class.  These two small but important factors were instrumental in my early success and exposure in writing and designing on the Internet.

During my senior year, my English teacher encouraged me to write as much as I could, and as often as possible.  During class, he would often go off on random tangents, talking about his college drug use, and participation in Vietnam War protests.  On one occasion, he claimed to have traveled across the United States in a camper van with only his writing notebook, and two changes of clothing.  Although he was often stuck in a much earlier time, his genius and passion was unquestionable.  Many of the things I have accomplished as a writer were, without question, due to the respect and encouragement I received from my senior year English teacher.

In my senior year English class, I wrote many pieces; as well as some works of poetry.  I learned early on that my best writing genre is non-fiction.  There are often moments in my life which even the most skilled and spirited writer could never dream up.  Those are the moments I remember, take copious notes about, and often document.  There was one poem that I wrote titled, The Misunderstood Child.  I submitted the poem as a weekly project in English class, and later that day, my teacher all but begged me to submit it to the annual poetry contest.

I was hesitant at first, fearing ridicule and rejection from my peers and of course my English teacher from the previous year.  My senior year English teacher begged and pleaded with me to submit my poem, and knowing the circumstances, allowed submissions to be anonymous until a winner was declared.  A week before graduation, it was announced at lunch time that I was the winner of the poetry contest.  A week later, during my high school graduation ceremony, I was asked to read my poem, The Misunderstood Child in front of the entire school.

It was a defining moment for me; the first time I was ever asked to read something I had written to a large audience.  The reaction was mixed, some laughed, others cried, though a few people came up to me afterwards to congratulate me on writing such an evocative piece.  The following year I was a freshmen in college, and I developed a passion for writing and website design, though photography would later follow.  To this day, I credit my senior year English teacher for inspiring me to write, regardless of other peoples thoughts or opinions.

Colophon
The header image, Stand Here. was taken by meddygarnet on Flickr.  If you wish to have your photography considered for use on this blog, please submit it to the TomSlatin.com Group on Flickr.  This piece was inspired by a conversation I recently had with a friend who asked me if I had a degree in Liberal Arts, simply because my writing reflects that of a Graduate of Liberal Arts.

Asides
Ridiclous Humanities Writing Assignments | My High School English Teacher, The Lunatic Genius | Playful Beginnings: My Writing Career | The Misunderstood Child | Authors Answer 46 – Promoting with Blogs or Websites

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20 Comments on Discouragement

  • jolly555 says:
    March 22, 2019 at 5:38 AM

    Some high school teachers are just mean. They can so kill students morale. Good to hear you turnout better afterall.

    Reply

  • brainedet says:
    March 21, 2019 at 11:09 PM

    This is so inspiring and a way to go with duscouragement. The sure is to succed in that same area and put people that ridiculed you to shame.

    Reply

  • Miaka Yuuki says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:54 PM

    We get discouraged all the time. However, careful on how you say it. There is a fine line between being critical and just mocking someone.

    Reply

  • Daphne says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:06 PM

    If it wasn’t for that English teacher you wouldn’t have had as much push and drive to succeed. It was a blessing in disguise.

    Reply

  • Oliver says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    You basically took the lemons that life gave you and used it to make lemonade. I’m glad everything turned out okay for you.

    Reply

  • Patricia says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:02 PM

    The irony is how after all that teacher did you turned out to be an amazing writer! Truly inspiring story!

    Reply

  • Meg W says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:01 PM

    Your story is sad but at the same time inspiring. You have such a resilient character.

    Reply

  • Roy says:
    March 21, 2019 at 9:00 PM

    We all face disheartening challenges in life. Our true strength is shown when we overcome them and achieve our wildest dreams!

    Reply

  • Rizzee Cerdeñola says:
    March 21, 2019 at 7:38 PM

    We can’t please everyone. Discouragement comes along the way. Thank you for being an inspiration.

    Reply

  • Obalade Damilola says:
    March 21, 2019 at 4:44 PM

    Well..I guess we have all had our fair share of disappointments..I’m happy your disappointments brought out the best in you

    Reply

  • Danielle M says:
    March 21, 2019 at 4:38 PM

    I guess in life come people is supportive ans passioned, and other people is too attached to the rules and perfection killing the creativity. I haven’t experienced that when writting, but I did when I was doing my fashion designes in the university.

    Reply

  • Meldred Judith says:
    March 21, 2019 at 1:08 PM

    Discouragement will really let you question your own abilities. As long as there is someone who believes in you, you should not let go of your dreams, and that someone should be you.

    Reply

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  • Amy Smith Findore says:
    September 27, 2015 at 12:46 PM

    I get asked the same question, Tom, I remember everything too!

    Reply

    • Thomas W.P. Slatin says:
      September 27, 2015 at 12:56 PM

      Do you take an unusually large amount of notes on these things? I sure do.

      Reply

    • Amy Smith Findore says:
      September 27, 2015 at 2:09 PM

      No, I just realized a few years ago that I remember WAY more than most. I have pretty much a photographic memory as well.

      Reply

    • Thomas W.P. Slatin says:
      September 27, 2015 at 2:11 PM

      I take an excessive amount of notes. Or at least, the amount of notes seems excessive to other people. But hey, it’s organized, searchable, and useful when it comes time to write my blog posts. 🙂

      Reply

    • Amy Smith Findore says:
      September 27, 2015 at 7:06 PM

      Very cool. I bought a notebook the other day that I thought would be perfect for jotting things down. Random ideas and such…

      Reply

    • Thomas W.P. Slatin says:
      September 27, 2015 at 7:07 PM

      My favorite notebooks are made by Moleskine. You can find them at Target and Amazon.com.

      Reply

    • Amy Smith Findore says:
      September 27, 2015 at 7:23 PM

      Mine was just a cute roadside sale find 🙂

      Reply

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