Thursday, June 20, 2013

the terrible mrs. b

 I realize it's been a while since I've posted anything new here.

The fire is out and our phone service (which was out for two weeks) has been restored, so I no longer have to drive five miles to the llama ranch to make a phone call.

So here will be a lengthy-ish post about some things I'd been meaning to talk about.

About writing, believe it or not.

A few days ago, a Facebook friend who is an author (and I apologize because I can't remember who it was at the moment) posted some photos of papers she'd written when she was a schoolgirl. There were comments written on the work--in red teacher pencil--praising her talents and saying things like "I know you're going to be a published author some day!"

Stuff like that.

It's really neat to see how an encouraging teacher can really shape a child's future.

And it also made me think about what happened to me when I was in Middle School. Remember, I was the kid like Ryan Dean West, my protagonist in Winger, so I was, like eleven years old when I was in 8th grade. That was really horrible. Eighth grade is sheer hell on boys. As a tiny kid, I'm lucky I didn't get pecked to death.

But the teachers were worse than the other boys.

When I was in 8th grade, part of our English curriculum (this is absolutely unheard of today thanks to the one-size-fits-all approach to schooling) included creative writing, which I liked very much. One of our major assignments was to write a short story.

I remember the short story I wrote in 8th grade, too. It was really dumb--a horror story about a guy who has a vacation rental and likes to drive his guests insane by making them think the house was haunted, which it was not. The story was called The Owl. I worked really hard on the story, and I thought it was very good.

After I handed it in to my English teacher, a horrid woman named Mrs. B--I waited (just like we wait for editors and agents) for some time for her feedback. When the class's portfolios were returned after grading, Mrs. B called me up to her desk because she wanted to talk to me.

I was kind of excited because I thought she was going to tell me I was a talented writer.

Well, not so much.

Here's what Mrs. B said (and wrote, but in graphite teacher pencil as opposed to red) on my short story:

Andrew, this story is very good. In fact, it's too good, and I do not believe an 11-year-old could have written it.

So, not only did Mrs. B accuse me of plagiarism (I can assure you the story, as dumb as it was, was entirely original and she had nothing to compare my work to), but she gave me a ZERO on the project and set up a conference with my parents to discuss their cheater plagiarizer son.

My parents were pissed. I was destroyed. I had never gotten an F on anything in my life. I'm pretty sure I walked home crying that day, too.

Also, I never wrote anything for Mrs. B ever again.

Yay for teachers!

Okay. Now, after that cheerful story, I want to share a couple bits of Winger love with you all.

First of all, I'm going to be speaking to EVERYONE, live via video conference about Winger on Tuesday, June 25 at 7PM EDT using a platform called Shindig, which is very cool. You can participate, ask questions, talk to me, or simply watch like a creeper to see what I am wearing and what incriminating objects are in my office in back of me, and it's all free. You just have to sign up here:

And, this morning, I woke to find that CNN had listed Winger in its Top Twenty Books to Read This Summer. This is a list of all genres, and Winger is NUMBER EIGHT!!!!

I am so stoked right now, it almost wipes away the trauma inflicted by that horrible 8th-grade English teacher I had.