Thursday, February 26, 2015

Porcupines, Passion, and Creativity

This is my first attempt at a Personal Eval about the History of my Writing Career. It is definitely one of the funnest essays I have written this year!

My three year old "Bible"

            “Jesus washed away the bad things that we do sometimes…” “…and a squirrel and a porcupine… and you can’t go because you are too poky.” This is an excerpt from the first “book” I dictated to my mother (I was three or four). I wanted to write a Bible. Of course I didn’t realize that I could not make a Bible since it was God’s Word, I simply wanted to express my love for Him, “Jesus and God I want to see you because you are my bestest friend up in heaven,” and end with a completely random story about porcupines. This sincere passion for God and the joy of creativity are two of the key factors in all of my writing experiences.
            Throughout my education I have Pen-Paled with friends on and off, starting when I was just old enough to write. I would write a rough draft, submit it to my mom for editing, then re-write it, neater, and mail it.  I never took a formal Grammar course; I learned about grammar, spelling, and handwriting through a writing experience that was quite thrilling. Of course, one of my great grandfathers would always send my letter back with all of my eight-year-old grammar errors corrected. Nowadays with instant messaging systems it is so easy to forget the value of sending a handwritten letter, or the joy of receiving one. This exercise aided my ability to convey my thoughts, events that transpired in my life, and encouragement to others, while also receiving constructive criticism and encouragement on my writing and life in general.
            When I was nine I began taking IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing). I did not like it. I loved to write, but I felt so confined with the checklists of adjectives and verbs. Nonetheless, I succeeded in writing fairly good papers. I certainly felt confident in my writing abilities and truthfully, was always one of the top writers in my co-ops. Writing just came naturally to me, as I was passionate about everything I wrote. If my heart was not in an essay, you could definitely tell. All my friends complained about writing papers and I enjoyed being the odd one who actually enjoyed it! Now as I look back on my writing, I cringe at the overuse of adjectives, the disregard for proper sentence structure and my questionable use of punctuation.
            I’ve started lots of books over the years, and finished a few short stories, but I never finished a book. It was not until I was twelve that I really realized why. I was taking Mrs. Morecraft’s Young Ladies Writing Course in tandem with Writing for God’s Glory as I began to realize the planning, and thought that must go into a story. I love to plan! I would spend hours planning out my characters and their elaborate families without taking too much care to the actual plot of the story. As I read through the teachers notes from Writing for God’s Glory I understood that I needed to plan and think more about my book, rather than simply writing happy situations and trying to put them together. I have since been inspired to start out on a novel writing journey, but have not had the time.
In 2012 I entered a Classical Conversations class called Challenge A. I enjoyed writing the short, 2-3 paragraph Biology papers and drawing elaborate illustrations to go with these reports. Again I was one of the top writers, despite being one of the youngest. When the second semester came around, I was exceeding grateful for my IEW experience. Those annoying checklists had taught me how to incorporate different writing techniques into each paper without thinking about it. The who/which clauses and special openers ran off my fingertips. It was during this semester that I realized how much I enjoyed persuasive writing. I loved proving my point through my pen and paper!
It was also during this year, at thirteen, that I was so grateful for my love of reading. I have come to the conclusion that a good writer is also usually a good reader. I consume books, and as I read I often notice the author’s style, how he catches my attention and how he keeps it. I enjoy picking topics from within books and using them as the starting point for essays. I have also recently begun writing book reviews (great way to get free books!). It has helped me pay closer attention to the books I read and why I like or dislike them, which in turn gives insight into my own writing.
Still thirteen, I continued my CC journey by doing the first semester of Challenge 1. I enjoyed it, but nonetheless, it was a challenge.  Being the youngest in the class, for the first time I was not one of the top writers. My classmates were very experienced and proficient writers and thinkers. It was a joy to write alongside them, but it was also very humbling. I was NOT the best writer, and I had to be okay with that. I needed to strive for better, but I did not have to be them. My best was all God wanted, and that is what I knew I had to give. This class was also the first time I had seen boys that could write well-even write better than me. I had always thought it was a girls’ thing. Most the boys I knew were not at all good writers; Thus, it was truly inspiring to see that anyone who put their mind to it, can learn to write well.
Now, apparently inspired by this notion, my Spring 2014 writing semester looked drastically different than the previous one. I joined a group of four boys, each leading one subject, and I led a Law and Government course. We wrote about an essay a week for this course, but as the semester progressed I realized that they were struggling. My Law and Government course turned in to “How to write an Essay/Law and Government.” It was a joy to teach them what I knew, and it helped me as much as it did them. I learned firsthand that teaching really is one of the best ways to learn.
Now, fourteen, having finished my first semester of AP courses I am re-evaluating my love of writing. I’ve realized I will not be writing History textbooks; Nor will I be spending much time writing poetry. But I will continue to write. How could I not? It is intertwined in every aspect of my life. I am so grateful that my writing creativity and passion has been able to thrive in its unique way through my homeschooling experiences. In 2013 I started this blog to post some of my writing. The title “Dancing In His Reign” describes my writing just as well as it describes my life. My writing, ever since I was a little three year old writing about the complex matters of salvation as well as porcupines, has been about learning to let my experiences and opinions good or bad, flow out in passionate and creative ways.