My Mother Taught Me to Write

My Mother Taught Me to Write

 

 Jane B. Schulz, author
My mother, Jane B. Schulz*

 I still have the report card

The comment on it says, “Johnnie spends too much time day dreaming. He is wasting time that will never be found again.”

I grin when I look back at it. The first part is almost true, I have always been a dreamer, and it’s true that I have spent a great amount of time day dreaming during the course of my life, but I question the “too much time” and the “wasting time” part of it.

I was never much of a student. Today, I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD and put on medications, I don’t know, but I’m glad the educators didn’t have that option while I was coming up. Math was pretty much beyond me and my father couldn’t understand why I was unable to put mathematical concepts together. I’ve always wondered that, too, but now it doesn’t seem to matter as much.

I could spend an hour watching a beetle crawl up a tree, though, and later I could describe every detail if its journey. I could tell you about the color and texture of the bark on the tree and I could describe each move of the beetle.

My mother read to me when I was young. I came to love stories. I learned to read for myself and found a world full of stories that people had written just for me and I became absorbed with two obsessions—reading and day dreaming. My grades in school fluctuated from poor to good and back again. I was told that I wasn’t applying myself.

One time a teacher told everyone in the class to write a story and I realized that I could make something up, tell about it, and it would count as work. I realized that I could use what others called my daydreams to observe people, places, things, and behavior patterns to write a story. All of a sudden my language arts grades in better. My self image improved.

Mom was a secretary and there was always an old Underwood typewriter sitting on a small table in the room that had been added behind the kitchen. I can still remember the first time she typed one of my pieces. She stopped to point out and explain corrections that I needed to make. When she was through typing I was proud of the way it looked. I remember that first time when I saw my work “in print.”

She kept on typing my papers and teaching me. She never criticized, but always showed me a better way to write something by saying something like, “Don’t you think it would sound better if….” She never told me that I needed periods or commas, she showed me why I needed them.

I am now sixty Six years old and I still have an indelible mental picture of my mother sitting at that typewriter and pointing out my mistakes in a loving, teaching, and compassionate manner. I remember the time she stopped typing short of the end of the story and said, “You don’t need to go further. The number one sign of a good writer is knowing when to stop.”

So, I will stop the story there.

 

*Photo of Jane Schulz from Grown Man Now Video Interview Series, © 2008 in2Wit, llc

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