Sunday, September 12, 2004
Sir Elton, Dr. Fry and Me
My husband and I always have our best conversations in the car. Yesterday was no exception. It all began innocently enough. We were listening to VH1 Radio on XM. They were doing sort of a "Behind the Music" (only not that show; maybe All Access?) on Elton John. My husband asks which Elton John song is my favorite of the day (we both change our answers to that question frequently. Also, if you are not a fan of Sir Elton--Shut it! I love him!). Yesterday I was reminiscent and chose to answer with my favorites from college: Something about the way you look tonight, takes my breath away-ay-ay it's a feel...oh, right, I'm not singing I'm posting, so sorry. My other favorite of course, was Daniel. Also? Your Song.
I was reminded, as I frequently am, of the fact that during my junior year of college, I would take my CD player and headphones to every class with me. Before class started, I would read and listen to music. For whatever reason, whenever I went to Dr. Fry's Lit class, I would listen to Elton John. And Dr. Fry would always stop to ask me what CD I was listening to. And he would get excited if I told him that it was Elton John: "Is that the CD with Honky Cat on it? I love Honky Cat!"
As I reminisced, I realized that had I taken Dr. Fry's class sooner, the entire course of my college career would have been drastically different. You see, I have always loved the written word. But I was convinced that to study it on that level would take away the "fun" of reading. The joy in writing had long since disappeared in my life, thanks in part to writing classes. While I learned a lot, I also had the misfortune of learning from teachers who had not yet learned that in order for criticism to be well-received, it has to be constructive. So, while I scored in the high 80s and 90s on every assignment, I became more and more convinced that I was a horrible writer. Whether creative writing or research, I only saw negative comments on my papers (followed by a "Try harder next time! 98"). Now, if I had the opportunity to have a teacher who did for writing what Dr. Fry did for literature, I could be a much better writer today.
I took Dr. Fry's class during his last year before retirement. I remember being devastated that I wouldn't be able to take another of his classes. Kafka, Ovid, Dostoevsky, The Bhagavad Gita.
As I related all of this to my husband, I told him that my two biggest loves have always been children and books. I mentioned that if I had taken that class sooner, it is very likely that I would have become an English major rather than an Elementary Education major (I didn't like a lot of the El. Ed. professors at my college. So snooty!). My husband then said something that had never occurred to me: Why not combine the two? You know more than most about what is age appropriate for children. You can determine at what reading level something has been written. You KNOW books. You KNOW kids. Do something with that. Even if you aren't going for publication, WRITE FOR THEM.
And so, I am. I started last night. I have two fleshed out ideas that are going to be turned into children's books. At least one will be more of a picture book. Which means when I finish it, I'm going to be on a quest for someone to illustrate it for me. The other I haven't decided on. It could really go either way: picture book or young reader (grade 3-5). I'm actually excited! I'm focused on something other than my dysfunctional reproductive system. This year without a teaching job may well be the best thing I've done for me in a really long time.
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