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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How Elvis helped me become a writer.

My friends and family have always given me a hard time for being an Elvis fan, and funnily enough, it has never bothered me one little bit.  We all have our quirks, and while I cannot even explain my love of the King, I once tried, and that has made all the difference.

I was in grade 9(I think, maybe grade 10), and Mrs. Marlene MacDonald(MacInnis)...Allan MacInnis' sister, was filling in for a teacher who was having a baby.  I loved her almost right away, I loved how she spoke to me like an equal, and encouraged me to borrow books she saw me eyeing on her desk.  She didn't just "stay in the box" in her teaching methods either, and when she told us that we had to do a written project about a historical figure, I asked her if I was allowed to write about Elvis.  After the usual snickers from the class, you could see Mrs. MacDonald pause to think about her answer.

"Of course," she said, "as long as you show why I should consider him a historical figure."  She then went on to inform the class that we would have to present our write-ups in front of the class, she wanted us to develop some "public speaking skills".  We lived in rural Cape Breton, and I can remember thinking at the time, "Why the hell do I have to stand up in front of people to talk?"  I will never use public speaking skills.

But I wanted to impress Mrs. MacDonald, and over the next few nights I poured my heart into that assignment, and since I knew I had to get up in front of the class, I tried to make it as funny and interesting as possible.  On the day I finally presented it, I felt like I was going to throw up, my hands were sweaty, and I think I stuttered for the first 10 sentences.  And then I realized I was probably not sounding too impressive, so I focused, sucked it up, and tried to sound interesting.  I was the last to present that day, and when the bell rang, my classmates did not jump up to make for the door, they sat and I finished....afterwards, Mrs. MacDonald said that while she thought she knew everything about Elvis, I had taught her something new about the man.  But then she went on, and said, "When your classmates did not jump up, but wanted to hear the rest of your paper, do you know why they didn't?  Because you have a real talent at writing, and when you are a good writer, you can capture attention.  You did that today."

She was the first person to ever say that she thought I was a good writer, and I will never forget that, ever.  She continued to encourage me to write, long after I left her class room.  She said to remember that passion that I had about Elvis, and always try to write about things I love and care about.  Of course, she was write, I always find that the pieces that I write that get the most reaction are usually on topics that I have a special interest, and when I let my heart go onto the page.

Today is Elvis' birthday.  So this was my long winded, roundabout way to say Happy Birthday to the King, but also to send thanks to Marlene, and all the teachers and friends that followed that said they thought I could write.  I still have to prove it to myself.


1 comment:

  1. You got me All Shook Up :p What if you have nothing to prove? How will you know if you do "prove" to yourself that you are a good writer? Is it possible you have set yourself up in some way? Just a few questions your post brought to mind. Maybe they mean nothing to you...but if they do, they are my gift to you on the King's birthday. :)

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