was in the fourth grade at Westgate Elementary School in Omaha,
Nebraska I was a terrible speller. In fact, if my memory serves me
right, I never did pass any of my spelling tests. It was a real point
of embarrassment, and of some great concern to my teacher, Mrs.
Miller, and my parents. If I interpreted their tone correctly, I was
destined to be a failure and would probably be lucky to get a job
Parent/Teachers Conference came around Mrs. Miller suggested a
possible way to get me on track with my spelling. She had noted that I
was a good artists (at least by crayon and finger paint standards), so
she suggested that I be allowed to draw and paint to my hearts content.
Then, once a week, I was to select one of my drawings and write a
short paragraph describing it. My mother was to then review the short
text and underline the misspelled words. Next, it was my task to look
up each of those underlined words in a dictionary and write down the
correct spelling. That part was not much fun, although it did
introduce me to that source of words, and I think my vocabulary
increased more than my skill at spelling.
side effect to all of this was that I took so much joy in writing
those little paragraphs about what I had drawn that I soon stopped
drawing and just wrote the stories based upon what was in my head.
And, of course, my mother praised my efforts, which encouraged me to
write more, and, as they say, the rest is history. I have been writing
prose every since.
college I took narrative and expository writing and eventually gained
the courage to try creative writing. In that class one of our
assignments was to produce ten outlines for ten stories by the next
session. We had discussed the process in class and so I set about my
task, jotting down various thoughts for story lines and plots, each in
a succinct, no nonsense manner, trying to capture the essence of each
Sitting in the student center, with my outlines spread before me, I
attempted to rework them into a more formal outline structure. As it
would happen, a friend stopped by to talk. He noticed my work and
picked up a few of the sheets to see what I'd written.
didn't know you wrote poetry," he said.
don't," I replied.
This looks just like poetry. And it's pretty good."
Just outlines for stories ... for my Creative Writing Class."
laid down my sheets and prepared to leave. "Don't know. Think you're a
closet poet ... and you don't know it." He smiled and departed.
got me thinking. So I showed some of my outlines to a few other
literary types that I knew. And sure enough, they each thought they
were reading my efforts at poetry. So, thus encouraged, I tried my
hand at that genre and took a poetry class the next semester and later,
I attended the Community Writers Workshop at the University of
Nebraska-Omaha and got a few pieces published and became a "poet."
the years I've bounced back and forth between the two styles and enjoy
writing both prose and poetry. And you'll have to be the judge if I've
been more successful in one vehicle over the other. Or, for that
matter, whether I've been successful in either.