Wednesday, October 22, 2008

literary genius

That's me! Except, not really. I just wrote this cute little piece as an see, I'm in this training class called Tutoring Writing, in which Writing Advisors like myself get to learn how to be better writers and how to help other students become better writers. We write letters to our "letter partners", and we are always given a prompt. This week I opted out of the prompt in favor of doing an exercise I found in one of our texts. The exercise was this: Write about an event in your life that had an impact on you. Do this with your computer screen turned off so that you can listen to the voice that your writing creates.

Since I didn't know how to turn off the screen of my laptop and didn't feel like figuring it out, I blindfolded myself instead and this is what I came up with:

“There are so many stories I could tell, but I am choosing to tell this. It is interesting how stories develop in our minds, and even more interesting how difficult it is to choose one. Some stories make us laugh, some make us cry, and some inspire anger, love, mercy, frustration, or hope. How can we know what a story will have to say before we try to say it? I will recount my story to you, and you can tell me what sort of story it is.

I used to live in a relatively good neighborhood of a small town in Illinois. That small town is now a suburb, and the neighborhood I was living in is now a gang hub and a place for hoodlums. But anyway, I moved away from there when I was seven years old with my parents and my little sister. We arrived in our new town full of expectation, which was inspired mostly by the promise of a great school system, lots of space for kids to play, and a generally friendly neighborhood. Plainfield was all of these things at the time, so life was going well. The only problem was that I had no friends. I was not particularly upset by this, but I knew at age seven that one could not go through life friendless, so I set out to make some new friends. My methods for this were a bit strange: I sat out on our new driveway and waited for a kid to pass by. I waited and waited, and one day this little girl about my age walked by with her mother and said, 'Hi.'

We were instant friends. I went over to her house every day, or at least every week, for about five years. One day Maura and I were sitting outside and trying to come up with a game to play and I told her in passing that I am part Cherokee. She thought this was really cool, and so I was encouraged just enough to try to embellish my story just a little bit. So, I told her that because I was Cherokee, I could just naturally tell time by the sun. For months after that day she would ask me what time it was and I would look at the sun and pretend to know. My guesses were usually correct.

Later in our friendship, though not much later, we were playing outside again and I told her that I knew how to make bowls and things out of stones. We ran around finding all of the stones that we could and indeed constructed the most useless bowl and plate you’ve ever seen. I sometimes wonder how Maura could have believed sincerely that I could do any of those things, but it seemed that she did and our friendship continued happily for years.

Maura and I never really stopped being friends. I suppose the friendship did end at some point, but I have no recollection of when that could have been. When we got to high school, we were in different classes most of the time and got involved in different after-school activities, so we grew apart a little bit. I haven’t spoken to her in years now, but I hope she’s doing well. Without that friendly little girl I may never have belonged in Plainfield.”

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