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 of 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 got better. My self image improved.

Mom was a secretary (She later went back to school and got a PhD in Special Education)  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 express myself 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 seventy years old, my mother still proofreads my writing. I still have an indelible mental picture of her sitting at that typewriter, 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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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patti Headley
    May 25, 2016 @ 10:05:54

    Ever so Happy to have been introduced to you and your work! (by our mutual friend Bill Land) Quite enjoying stepping into your journey. BTW- Your Mom rocks!! I identify with fluctuating grades & the most expressed comment on my report cards ‘she’s just not applying herself’ … HA! I choose to ‘dance with life’ & very much enjoy the side step, the two steps forward one back, and the ever so thrilling ‘turn myself around’ spin (sometimes I do this till I’m dizzy with laughter). Looking forward to reading your books! Thanks for sharing your journey & take on life.
    Daydreaming is how we create our lives!

    Reply

  2. Claudia Kennedy
    Nov 18, 2015 @ 15:17:41

    Wow! How much we have in common. Daydreaming is just investing your time. Not wasting your time. Your mom sounds awesome! My mom read to us by a kerosene lamp. Really. And I am just one year younger than you are. First book? Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Later, Old Yeller. Glad we’re F.B friends…..Love your blog…

    Reply

  3. Claudia Kennedy
    Nov 18, 2015 @ 15:16:49

    Wow! How much we have in common. Daydreaming is just investing your time. Not wasting your time. Your mom sounds awesome! My mom read to us by a kerosene lamp. Really. And I am just one year younger than you are. First book? Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Later, Old Yeller. Glad we’re F.B friends…..Love you blog…

    Reply

  4. Treesa Holland
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 19:18:09

    Your mother sounds totallyAwesome!

    Reply

  5. Trackback: One A Day For A Year–Here’s Number 365 | John P. Schulz: Quotes and Notes Daily
  6. Tish Kashdan
    Jan 26, 2015 @ 23:34:36

    John, I can picture and hear the conversations take place. Of course, in my mind’s eye, they are at the kitchen table at Mary’s :-)!

    Reply

  7. John P.Schulz
    Jan 25, 2015 @ 21:13:44

    Thanks, Mackie. It was good to meet you also. I am through with treatments now as far as I can tell. The scans are all clear of them nasty little bad cells. In my new book I am trying to answer questions and calm fears for people who have just learned that they (or a friend or loved one) have cancer.

    Reply

  8. Mackie Carson
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 22:14:26

    I understand you better through the eyes of your Mom. Enjoyed meeting you while working with your precious wife Dekie on my book JUDAS DEPUTY. Wish you loads of luck with prayers in your forthcoming treatments.

    Reply

  9. Jimmye Grimes
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 20:22:18

    I loved this story. Thank you for sharing, John.

    Reply

  10. Deborah Hampton
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 17:33:48

    What a wonderful story. I have never met your Mother but through FB I have come to know an amazing woman!

    Reply

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