Dear L,

In response to your invitation to contribute to your discussion of, “losing your voice,” regarding your current writing project, I offer you a series of events that has really worked wonders with my creative mojo.

First off, I am pleased to inform you that I received a 19 out of 20 on Constance’s “persuasive paragraph” assignment. Though Constance takes exception with this attribution arguing that her replacement of a single word(suggested by me)and the addition of one final sentence was more than enough to transform an entire paragraph I’d written into an original work of her own. I ventured a contradictory opinion during dinner(after all the subject at hand was “persuasion”) which seemed to accomplish little more then to strengthen her belief that I remain, “like, a total asshole.”

You see, fair Constance has been struggling in her efforts to construct a cohesive paragraph and the item she was intending to turn in was arguably in need of some refinement. So a few nights ago Phyllis hatched a plan intended to help Constance along. One of us would cook dinner and the other would try and write a similar paragraph to the one Constance was working on-only we would tighten it up a bit to provide an example that Constance could use to improve her own. Announcing that I had successfully failed two straight years of high school English largely due to my inability to create such paragraphs I headed for the kitchen. “Not so fast,” said Phyllis, suddenly afflicted with a raging domestic yearning, “I have been planning this meal all week.”

So I sat down and only three hours later(In fairness, this included some extensive internet research as to what exactly might be a “persuasive paragraph,” and, as you know, the internet is a jungle)I had what I thought might be an acceptable example. So I emailed it off to Constance(who was staying at her dad’s by this point)and told her to look at it and see if it might help her clean up her own. Having received her mother’s “shortest distance between two points” gene when the DNA was being divvied out, she, instead, deduced that it might save her a fair bit of time if she were just to hand in the one that I’d sent along-what with all the changes and all.

Anyway, I am really over the moon that our joint effort was so well received by Miss Rhodes as I was a little worried that if a grade 8 teacher were to deem me incapable of stringing together a mere paragraph of coherent thought I might have to finally cave in to that persistent voice that often shouts when I try to write, “Lost your voice dumb ass? You never had a voice. Quit torturing people by trying to make them read all that shit you write. Do some volunteer work or have a beer instead.”

Thing is, I like to write. So do at least ten billion other folks, if the internet is any indication. They go about tapping away trillions of, blah-de-blah-de-blahs describing their piddling little lives, their journeys of self discovery or lessons worth sharing from their uncannily gifted four year old-all this to a captive audience of 3 or 4 family members who haven’t learned yet how to block a sender. The majority of it that I have read(because if you want people to read your crap I figure you should exchange the favor)is downright unbearable. And this is why it is sometimes so difficult to try and write because so much of it is just shit anyway. Why add to the pile? Am I any different? That’s why the goal I set a year ago to try and write something every two weeks has fallen way behind.

But enough self deprecation-this new development has proven quite refreshing. What with Miss Rhodes indirectly informing me(like a message from God)that I can compete at a grade 8 level of English at least in regard to a “persuasive paragraph.” Well there is motivation if ever their was any.  32 years ago my 11th grade English teacher, after struggling through many of my wordy masterpieces, entreated my mother to reveal if there was any chance that I might be mildly retarded. She also noted that I tended to ramble and shared comparable concentration levels with a Labrador puppy. But now I know a different story. So reinforce your in-box and prepare for, what surely will be, a deluge of many confident and pithy missives from the land of Barksville…..albeit from the fresh and innocent perspective of an 8th grader.

I remain, enroute to “finding my voice,”at which point I might have the luxury of losing it,


P.S. It was really a Budgie that my English teacher spoke of, as to my ability to concentrate, but as this is supposed to be a collection of things about people and their dogs I decided not much would be lost by throwing in the Labrador.  Actually I was going to say Duck Tolling Retriever but nobody knows what they are.

One Response to “Self Improvement via Step-Daughter Relations”

  1. L


    Glad to hear that my inbox will be filling up with what will surely be masterpieces in the making. We all lose our voice, but so glad that Miss Rhodes helped you find yours again. All of us have similar grade 11 English stories — my grade 7 teacher told me I had no imagination. OK, so I write creative non-fiction now, but still. Oh, and a lab puppy might have a short attention span, but could they really be any more adorable?

    Fondly, your friend in writing and in silence,

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