Monday, November 16, 2009

Literacy Autobiography

     By the time I was in the first grade, my dad decided that my older brothers and sisters and I didn’t need to be watching television. When a severe storm knocked down the antenna and blew the tubes out, he made the wise decision not to replace it. (This was in the day of the large console TV’s, no remote control, and only 13 channels to peruse, changed by a dial on the front of the set.) It would be many years before he bought another one, and I went through my elementary school years with the entertainment of a vivid imagination and a good selection of books. I remember hours of reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries, the Hardy Boys series, and the cases of Barclay “Brains” Benton and Jimmy “Operative Three” Carson. We also had Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and a whole selection of books, the names of which have long left my memory. How I loved Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, books I read over and over again. It was so easy to get lost in one of the books, sometimes letting my imagination take over and becoming one of the characters, but always and discovering, exploring and traveling through the words that were written.

     The first time I became enthralled with a book was in third grade. My teacher read us Little House on the Prairie, and it began in my love for Laura and Mary, and all the characters in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, even to this day. I don’t remember Mom reading to me as a child though I know she worked with me, teaching me a little about reading and writing, because I knew how to write my name before I started school. (Margaret is a long word for a four year old to spell and write!) I do, however, remember how she would regale us with stories of her childhood, and I remember how I would listen to her tell the same stories over and over! My mom came from a very poor share-cropping family, and the ways of her childhood seemed so foreign and fascinating to me.

     I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I spent much of my classroom time in my own private fantasy land. It was during this time that I began to notice the delightful world of rhyming words! It was so easy for me to write a poem, and I began a love affair with words, which will, I believe, last the rest of my life. One of my favorite poems I named "Snow on a Winter's Eve."  It was born from daydreaming in a ninth grade math class. While the poem is about snow on a winter’s eve, it was written on a hot day. I looked out the window at the green grass and trees, and as usual, my mind wandered, words and rhymes began to come together, and I began to write:

Alone with the cold in the whiteness of moonlight,
And the shimmering wetness of the snow flight.
The pine trees are softly covered in snow,
And the moon has a silver glow.
Standing alone in the cold white mist
Watching the fields as they’re snow kissed
A lone wolf howls in the faraway distance
Like that of a creature needing assistance.
A dog runs by leaving his prints
The snow gently falls and covers the dents
Just like it was made for this special duty
Never once without grace or beauty.

     My attention span is very short, and my mind worked much faster than I could write (before the world of the personal or laptop computer). Though to be honest, I never really thought about writing down the stories I concocted in my imagination. I dreamed of being a songwriter, but not being able to sing or play an instrument halted that aspiration. My senior year was when I was first introduced to writing in a daily journal, which was mostly like a diary, only we were graded on the material. There was never a time that I didn’t like reading or writing, but there were many years when I didn’t have, or make the time, to do a lot of reading, and practically no writing. These days, I usually have two or three journals that I write in occasionally. There is also the world of Twitter, Facebook and Myspace that allows me and millions of others to write our thoughts and details of current events to share with others.

     I largely ignored my writing ability during my twenties. I was busy with life, college, working and raising a child by myself. I didn’t read much either, except the occasional love story, most of which I felt I could write better, or at least just as good. I also had the audacity to think that I could write better poetry than some of the famous poets of the past. (Now, of course, I certainly let others make that judgment.) One constant that always remained in the midst of my thinking that I could write a better book than the ones I’d read was the fact that I never did write the book! But my affection for the written word never waned. I only pushed my talent aside, not my love for it. Over the years I have kept a few journals, writing stories of the events of my life, or events happening around me. And I have always written poems, many of them long lost and forgotten.

     Though I didn’t realize it as a young adult, church, family and heritage play a large part in who I am, and I have reached a stage in my life where I love writing more than ever. I don’t read a lot of books, but I do peruse and keep up with many blogs written by others. I have many books in my bedroom that I read a little at a time. I have several books on those same shelves that I have read and will probably read again. And I have handwritten notebooks everywhere, full of my thoughts, ideas, events, and notes.

     I am blessed and very thankful.

4 comments:

  1. That was a great post! I loved learning more about your thinking and your past. Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. I hope you/your mom have written down the stories she would share with you as you grew up; what a legacy that is to pass down to your daughter and grandchildren. I think your father was very wise to not replace the TV. When we were younger and our TV broke we were without one for only about 6-9 months but it was a good time of togetherness playing card games, working on puzzles, reading, etc. I think TV is good but not when some people watch it 24/7 (you know what I mean); it does zap creativity

    loved to read how you came to be a writer and a poet. I hope you try to publish some of your poetry for you do have a talent with it

    I think a written journal is a good thing to have; I read on someone's journal how her mother before the daughter's 40th birthday got a paper journal and started writing in it nightly sharing things about her growing up days, family traditions, etc. She said to this day (she's in her 50s) it was one of her most treasured possessions

    betty

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  3. Your story is a lot like mine except that I was blessed with a wonderful husband, though he was a long haul trucker and gone most of the time for over 30 years.

    Reading, writing, art... all of these are part of me because of my Dad and Mom's teachings (through life more than through words.) Thank you so very much for sharing this part of your life... what has made you so much of what you are... someone who can share such beautiful thoughts and feelings in your poetry and prose.

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  4. I loved this post Margaret...my love of books started with Charlotte, Stuart and the Ingalls family too. We recently disconnected our cable and it has been one of wisest decisions we've made as parents. Keep sharing!

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