I am still here.
I am even writing again.
You: You mean you stopped?
Craziest Best Professor Ever
Creatively, yeah. There was a situation.
Something about working extremely hard for an insane professor who said, “You need to forget everything you’ve ever been told about writing,” and a professor who gave straight A education students Cs for the first time in their lives.
But, I got through it. Leaving that class was one of the happiest nights because I knew I would write freely and creatively again. I knew I would not waste time on useless literary criticism, and spend more time with my family.
I would not hear that professor speak again.
Her last words to me during my early weeks of pregnancy, when I was still in all of my regular clothes, were, “Look at your pouchie. You can’t help it. It’s already showing.”
While nothing showed, I also understood that facing the professor one on one meant a cost to any personal, academic, or professional pride I had left. To ask for an earlier final exam time on a Friday night cost me a small portion of personal pride.
Everything, as writers know, has a cost. To write, edit, and to submit takes quality time if you want your work, cover or query letters to be good. You sacrifice time with family. (Maybe a little time designated for studying.)
I never forgot what one of my mentors said early in my writing career. “If you love something, you will make time for it.”
The spring semester was an exception for me. I sacrificed time for writing to figure out how this professor wanted me to write. The problem was her grading was subjective. She looked for us to make the points she found in the text instead of the important points we found in the text. And, I had never had below a B in an English class.
I panicked to the point I did not want to write for a while.
So my blog sat empty.
My stories remained untouched for several months.
Since my undergraduate years, I had received rejections for stories and to my query letters. At first those rejections upset me, but I got over them. I valued the professors who gave valuable advice in critiquing my writing. When this professor informed me she graded the same as a previous instructor I’d had, who had been encouraging, I raised my eyebrow and just said, “Yes, ma’am.”
I had to get over her words because I had a deadline for a wonderful publisher for whom I’ve freelanced for a few years. I thought Okay, I can do this. Since the magazine is customer-based, the way in which it is published and edited is different than journalism. The customer can edit the work. But in all the years I’ve written, something happened that had never occurred before.
One customer rewrote everything I had written for their part of the article. Pregnant, emotional, and defeated, I asked the publisher to take my name off that part of the article or to split it.
Had I forgotten how to write like a (fluff) journalist, I wondered. Had I forgotten how to write in order or how to write academically, I thought.
Anything I attempted to type felt disconnected. When I began writing those articles, I realized just how much I let one person get into my head. In conversations with other students, I know she did the same to them, but I had to get out of that funk. I was no longer a writer attempting to be published for the first time or find a job in journalism. I was a professional writer of whom much was expected.
As I read Rachel Isadora’s Luke Goes to Bat to my son about a little boy who wants to play baseball with the older boys and learns not to give up, I am reminded of a simple life lesson. “Don’t give up.”
Better yet: Don’t let someone else ruin your confidence.
Rebecca T. Dickinson (is back)