Writing can be kind of like math in the sense that you either love it or hate it. Math was never my strong suit and I actually got worse at it over time. I don’t understand numbers or equations, I just know how to write and read words.
For me, writing is another form of creating. I like to make things like jewelry because it makes me happy to wear something I created with my own two hands. It’s very much the same with writing. I write because it makes me feel better. It’s my outlet. My parents always thought I could be a strong writer of any sort, and I believed them…until I got to college. This is probably one of my favorite stories to tell.
I use to help my brother write his college essays when I was a sophomore in high school. He was excellent at math but couldn’t get the hang of writing. He made a “B” in his English courses without ever knowing the difference in APA and MLA formats. You’re welcome, bro.
Anyway, I thought I would be cocked, locked, and ready to rock once I got to college. I did well in English and reading comprehension as a Psychology major. It was when I changed my major to communications that I began to doubt myself, and so did my professors, apparently.
Let me break this on down: English writing and PR writing is as different as Astronomy and Marine Biology. I got totally plowed by PR writing and it made me panic. Writing was the only thing in this world that I knew for a fact that I was good at! I never failed, but I made lots of C’s, certainly not for a lack of effort. This material was hard. I emailed teachers, sought out help and tutoring, but I watched many of my fellow classmates experience the same.
One time in particular we had a newsletter assignment that was about eight pages long. It was a project that we had worked on from the first day of class, so our professor saw our progress throughout the whole semester. Every day, I would attend class early and stay a little later than the rest. A lot of kids left early so I took advantage of the one-on-one time I had with my professor. I asked her lots of questions, emailed her constantly, and even printed off a rough draft of my project to ensure I was on the right track. She gave me a thumbs up and I went about the rest of my semester.
I’ll never forget the day I got that project handed back to me. A big, red “46/125” was circled at the top. I was confused and quite angry, if I’m being honest. Obviously I spoke with my professor after class to confront the situation. Her response to my baffled state was that I was “just a really poor writer”. Her exact words. I cried. I won’t lie. I was upset. If I wasn’t a good writer, what was I? I spent my life writing and loving it. She was not the first professor to kick me while I was down, though. I had a professor once who resemble Mr. Clean but had the personality of a frustrated porcupine. He called me into his office to ask me why I wasn’t performing well in class. I had no idea I wasn’t doing well, so this was a little frustrating to answer.
I am not trying to make excuses for why I did poorly in their classes. I think I tried to put my own spin on my work, as I do with everything I put my hands on. The reason I laugh at my professors now is because I was told I was a terrible writer and that I should focus my energy on a different field of work.
My professors had Ph.D.’s in God-knows-what, but many of them failed with flying colors in the art of teaching. Today, I am a contributing writer for North Texas Farm and Ranch magazine, a blogger, and I write content for my company’s website. I owe it all to the people who told me I was a terrible writer.