A Late Discovery

Pencil-Clip-Art After I published a post chronicling my decision to compile a book, a few readers asked how I discovered my passion for writing. Did I write all my life, astounding or dismaying others with my prose? Or did writing come to me more reluctantly, like convincing a toddler to open his mouth for pureed spinach?

The spinach analogy works.

I always felt I could write, and my teachers seemed to agree—with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But writing required work; I found it easier and more fun to spend my time reading the words of others and trying to peel the foil from gum wrappers.

Besides, my lifelong ambition was to teach, not write, so why bother?

As a teacher, I most enjoyed teaching literacy: reading, writing, and speaking. The individual writing conferences I had with students of all ages rank among my happiest teaching memories.

During these conversations, I frequently tried to help my students understand the necessity of deleting words, sentences, or paragraphs that divert a reader’s attention from the writer’s story or purpose — like a fly buzzing around a bride’s head as she’s reciting her wedding vows.

girl-face-cartoon-clip-art_416713Nose-to-nose with an uninhibited second-grader, after a detailed discussion of the strengths we’d found in her story, I gently wondered if two sentences describing her pretty birthday cake, in the middle of a story about trick-or-treating, might confuse her readers.

Could those sentences be taken out of this story and saved for another about her birthday?

“Oh no, Mrs. Bohart, I WROTE them in THIS story. I CAN’T take them out. They’re too GOOD!”

How well she summarized the agony of all writers.

After I retired, buoyed by my enjoyment of a class for beginning bowlers where I had fun and managed to break 100, I took a memoir class. In it, I wrote the memories of my heart, which I read to positive classmates, who laughed at the right times and never looked puzzled or appalled.

I haven’t quit writing since. I had discovered late in life that I could lose myself in writing, allowing my hair to go uncombed and pot roasts to burn.

Choosing the perfect descriptor or thinking of a clever comparison pleased me inordinately; I wrote with a contented smile and emptied the dishwasher with a tumult of ideas swirling in my head. Finally, at age 65, I had begun practicing the skills I preached to students.

It’s never too late to find, or develop, a passion.

Today’s Question:
What talent or skill
would you like to develop?

What You Said About “Words Matter”
A theme emerged in last week’s comments: parents and teachers need to model the language they want their children to use. Sue kept a quote in her classroom “Children are a mirror,” to remind her to choose her words carefully. Becca, a mom, admitted she sometimes forgets the impact of her words until they come out of her child’s mouth. Kathleen, Becca’s cousin, also stated she wasn’t a perfect mother when her children were young, but she never called them names or berated them; she knew they already had enough to battle out in the world. She also shared a hilarious story about her decision to name her son Tucker. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll want to take a look.

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14 thoughts on “A Late Discovery

  1. I was able to read your blog this week! Woo-woo! I believe we need to be life long learners for anything and everything! Passion to accomplish something can come to us at any age! My passion is to continue on my artistic journey!

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  2. This is so uplifting. I very much want to write a book someday (probably fiction). I didn’t enjoy writing very much in school, but I do now. However, I know that I need some kind of formal training to hone my craft. Maybe once my boys are older I can take a class.

    “Choosing the perfect descriptor or thinking of a clever comparison pleased me inordinately”

    This is how I feel about writing even the most mundane blog posts about saving money!

    I was precocious as a child, and came to feel like my self-worth was tied to doing great things at a young age. It’s nice to realize that my ship hasn’t sailed, and there’s still a world of opportunity.

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  3. Hi Janet,

    Your question is a good one—what talent or skill would I like to develop? Too many of them. I could start with horseback riding (I took two classes and wasn’t very good at it.) Also I’d like to be a better cross-country skier, like those Olympians I’ve been watching. And, now that we’ve moved into a new house, I wish I had skills in carpentry, and electrical and plumbing work.
    At this point though, becoming a more talented writer is my greatest passion. I’ve always loved the written word but my studies in biology and physiology took me far away from a literary career.
    Thanks for the “you’re never too old” inspiration! As you can tell from the above, focusing on just one thing is my greatest obstacle right now. With that in mind I think I’ll sit down and write another paragraph for one of my stories right now.

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  4. I’m so happy that you pursued writing, so I can enjoy the words you delightfully string together.
    I am having fun creating with fabric bits and pieces. Oh, and adding beads and baubles when necessary.

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    • I’ve had one of your delightful creations on display in my home for the past month, Audrey: a fabric valentine with a whimsical heart on multicolored strips accented with gold trim. You have an artistic eye and a crafter’s skill.

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  5. I’ve been enjoying your blog. Welcome to the writing life! I have been asking myself about new and old passions I’d like to explore in retirement. I’ve always written, so will continue that. I would like to travel more too. Applying for a passport this week!

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    • Good to hear from you, beet poet, and congratulations on applying for a passport. In addition to writing, we share that interest as well. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog soon.

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  6. I enjoyed reading your posts. I agree, you’re never too old to discover your talent or passion. It took me fifty years to discover the writer in me and I just published my second book. Reading and learning have always been two of my greatest passions and once I started taking writing courses I was hooked.

    Liked by 1 person

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