Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Small Beginnings Part 1: Mrs. Gardener

Last year, I took the SAT for the first time. Despite being a writer, I was so sure I would bomb the writing portion and then the humiliation of that would cause me to bomb the following English portion. And then because I still count with both hands (and sometimes both feet) , I would bomb the Math portion, and ultimately become a failure.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened up that little booklet and read my writing prompt, which basically asked me what I thought was more important, creativity or logic and reason. Um, hello? This is probably the most indulgent question you can ask a writer. The answer is so obvious. It's like they were asking me if I would prefer laying on a tropical beach with Leonardo Dicaprio or reenacting the Titanic. And no matter how cute Leonardo was in the Titanic, we all know he dies in that movie. So, I'm taking the beach.   

Needless to say, I didn't bomb the writing portion. I wrote my essay about my fifth grade teacher and how she changed my life by assigning a creative project, thus explaining why I thought creativity was limitless, which explained why I thought it was more important. While I wont be sharing my essay with you guys, I am going to share my fifth grade teacher.

Her name is Mrs. Gardener and she is still the best teacher I've ever had. I think what made her such a wonderful teacher was the fact that she was dedicated to her job. That dedication showed in everything she taught me, and I'll always thank her for that, because it makes a difference. At least, it did for me.

As all stories start--Once Upon a Time, Mrs. Gardener handed out an assignment to the class after hanging three paintings on the board. She told the class to choose one and then write a story about it, which didn't sound all that fun to me. But her enthusiasm for the assignment was contagious. It was almost as if she was inviting me into a secret world, giving me a set of keys, and telling me "go ahead, open the door."

I rode on that enthusiasm all the way home and wrote my very first story. I don't remember what the painting I chose was called, but I do remember that it had to do with a book being eaten by vines. From that I got 12 wide-ruled pages about a girl whose mom drove her to the library and told her to make some friends, and in an effort to do so, she befriended a girl working at the checkout counter and ended up checking out a book that was said to be haunted. She then goes home, opens the book, and the vines reach out and pull her into the book, trapping her forever. I know, I think it's pretty brilliant, too.

I wrote this laying in the middle of my bedroom, writing so fast that my words were illegible. Sometimes, I think that I'm still laying there writing, only now, I'm older and the stories are different and I'm typing on a laptop. Sometimes, I believe that Mrs. Gardener really did hand me the keys to a secret world and once I went in I never came back out.

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