Today I was talking to a friend about writing and they said that this other writer could be good but that their lack of a college education showed itself at times.
“Really,” I said. ” I don’t have a college education.”
” Well. You’re self educated.”
” That’s like being home schooled. And I know what you think about that. Besides I didn’t pay for it and I never got tested and accepted. I didn’t walk away from my ‘self taught book learnin’ with a degree. So it doesn’t count.”
I hate having this conversation with anybody, but I will have it and I will hammer my point home with a rusty nail and rock.
” Sometimes people wave their degrees around 40 years after the fact like a girl waving her engagment ring around so that everyone notices and asks her about it.”
” Oh ” people are supposed to ask, ” what’s that” and then she’ll tell you all about it until your ears bleed.
I’ll make no bones about it.
I did want to go to College. My problem was I lacked the confidence to go and the few people who I chose to ask about the process weren’t terribly supportive.
” It’s really hard.” I was told ” and you have that good job at the t-shirt store. Maybe you should stick with retail. You’re really great at that.”
I was 16 at the time.
So I saw college as this elite group of people and it was ok if I chose to not attend because not everyone was ‘meant to go.’
I wasn’t bitter about it.
I just thought I wasn’t good enough.
Do you know who didn’t do a thing to clear that up?
So I try not to be a bitch when my College educated friends don’t understand science or physics. I don’t make fun of them when we talk about literature and the minute they open their mouths all the lines from Cliff’s Notes fall out.
I sold a ton of those things when I had one of my ‘great jobs’ at a bookstore. I always heard the same thing, ” I just don’t have the time to read the entire book.”
Let me point something out. If you are in a place where you can savor the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky fucking DO IT. Don’t cheat your way around it. I read Dostoevsky in high school for my Russian history class. I read him last year (again) for the pleasure of it.
Don’t tell me you ‘remember his books from college.’ His works were intense, dark and because he dealt so much with psychology the characters were complicated people. You’re not going to nail them down in one reading and have it stick because you understand what the characters ‘represent’
You can re-read his works a few times and you will always see a new twist, understand a bit more or depending on the social and political world see it in a new light.
Anyway that’s what I’ve done.
So no, I didn’t go to college. I don’t have papers- at least my dog does. He’s a Chocolate Lab and registered with the AKC. He also eats cat poop and licks my phone when it rings.
The only paper making me official is my birth certificate and my high school diploma.
Still. I write and read books about physics to relax.
I didn’t go to college but someday I might.
I just hope that after I don’t end up eating cat poop, licking my phone when it rings or walk away from the experience thinking it’s ok to read great works of literature only once or that you can get all the science you need from your friend who was really good at it…in College.
Anita Marie (Godfrey) Moscoso
Edmonds High School
Some of you, who are not pure of heart and spirit, may remember the joke people made when they got caught reading Playboy:
” I only read it for the articles.”
We all knew that was balderdash- people weren’t reading Playboy they were LOOKING at Playboy.
I’m not here to judge- and if you want to look at pictures of naked people be my guest.
What I’m here to do is point out that people are dragging that sold old punch line out and they’ve applied it to…
Facebook is all about the pictures- we just have a hard time admitting that. So we write little quips and string together one liners and call it communication- but really it’s all about the pictures.
I think it’s fine if people are using Facebook as a way to communicate if they’re housebound or in a place where for some reason making actual human contact is a challenge.
Moreover not everyone can be a storyteller- so if you want to share your dinner or pictures of your dog and kids and night out with your friends with other people who do that- knock yourself out.
But if you’re a writer ( for example ) Facebook is a creative killer.
Instead of taking those ideas that could turn into actual stories or posts or articles, they disintegrate into a Meme. Or you skip it altogether and instead of turning a person you know or met by chance into an interesting character you just slam this on your wall and call it a day:
That’s not writing.
It will never be writing.
If you’re a writer don’t fool yourself, you’re not sharing an idea or telling a story. You’re doing the hi-tech version of writing on a bathroom stall.
In the old days picture above would have ended up in the margin of my notebook and I’d have turned it into a story about two people who end up willing to fight to the death for a parking space- and then when they realize they’re deadlocked they make a deal with the Devil.
Nobody ever will comment under that picture” and what happened next?”
The point I’m trying to make is, if I want to share something a story about my dog or how my same old daily bus ride is more then it appears or how I saw something strange or cruel or funny- I can do more then slam a picture on FB and post under it:
I’m supposed to be a writer. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be or do.
I shouldn’t settle for doing less when I know I have so much more to offer.
The trick is letting go of Facebook.
I’ve bought into the notion that this is where people ‘live’ now and if I don’t live there I will not be living at all.
That can’t be true.
It just can’t be.
Sometimes we take chances, we do something new, outside the box.
This year I did that.
I skipped Halloween, I didn’t write a word I didn’t plunge a knife into a pumpkin, though I did go to a cemetery which was abandoned and neglected and forgotten.
But that’s another story.
So what did I do?
I thought, very, very hard about my writing and how I wouldn’t treat anyone or anything the way I treat it.
I treat my writing like a toy. I play with it, get bored with it and it ends up forgotten and neglected under the couch until for some reason the couch gets moved and there it is.
So I look at my poor beat up toy and I feel guilty so I can’t face what I’ve done and I won’t touch it. I can’t even look at it.
A few times during October I even pulled out my lap top and fired it up but I didn’t even go to my blogs.
I just couldn’t.
Sometimes I can hear the music and sometimes I can’t. But that’s not an excuse for my lack of self discipline.
However, I think this time I learned something- that I don’t take care of myself or my dreams or grow my talent.
I did that for my husband, my sons my friends – I would support them to no end in what calls to them.
But I haven’t done that for myself.
I’m thinking that by going outside the box- this time I learned something.
At least I hope so.
One of my favorite memoirs was written by Carol Burnett.
It’s called called One More Time-
I enjoyed Carol’s book because of the way she wrote about her family and friends. The people in her book were in glorious technicolor.I felt could see them as I read her book. On the other hand my family is full of vivid characters so I could relate.
So, where is this going.
I have been off looking for ideas, listening to music and probably eating to many snacks but it was worth it.
I was cruising around FB one day when I ran across a post in a Writer’s Group and an editor posted something where he said this would probably upset people but… ( oh translated this means I’m going to screw with you guys but that’s okay, right?)
You are NOT a writer because you say so, because that’s what you do. You are not a real writer or an author until someone like him edits your book, you gain ‘approval’ and you end up getting paid.
I have three little stories about that.
When I was just starting out as a guitarist I used to get offers to join bands- as a singer, but not as a guitarist because these bands were looking for “Professional Guitar Players.”
This criteria was set by 16-19 year old BOYS.
I told my music teacher I was sick of hearing that and what did it mean anyway?
My teacher told me, ” Professional means paid. “
He told me to run through the song I had been working on, I did, he reached into his pocket and handed me a dollar. ” Here, you’re now a paid musician. You’re professional. Congratulations.”
As to the milestone- getting paid and published.
Well, by a very rough estimate I won prizes and awards for my writing that ended up being worth a serious chunk of cash before I hit 17, so I guess by those standards I was a professional writer too.
I was in scholastic magazines that went state-wide and I think in a few other cases further than that.
The first time that I was ‘recognized’ as a writer was for a poem and a short story I wrote about a demon cat.
My teacher was so impressed he passed it around to other teachers and writers- all the way to ones who taught college.
That’s right I was EVALUATED and my teacher put together my own lesson plan for the next two years so I could develop my gift, my other teachers followed it to Junior High and it stopped in Highschool because Creative Writing was only taught to Sophomores.
So I applied for extended credit I came up with a new lesson plan and got credit towards Graduating high school for writing.
So my story and poem ( which I hate writing poems and that was the only one I have ever written) were entered in contest I’d never heard of and all I know is I got a check for 20.00 and a certificate and a copy of the magazine which in my infinite wisdom as a 10 year old ( this was in 1973), I cut my stuff out and threw the rest of the magazine away :::facepalm:::
But hey, OTHER people SAID I was a writer and I was good. I was only 10 but whatever right? I was APPROVED BY A HIGHER AUTHORITY
I was in another group where we were doing peer reviews and the only piece out of the dozen or so stories that an editor/writer liked ( which was good actually ) she got up and said and I quote ” YOU WROTE IT EXACTLY THE WAY I WOULD HAVE. THIS IS FANTASTIC!”
Oh seriously, really?
Back to Carol’s book.
One of my favorite quotes was by Carol’s Grandma, ” Nanny”. When Nanny thought you were being how can I say this…you were being a mindless fool, she would say, ” You make my Ass want to chew tobacco.”
Now the imagery in that slays me.
I love it.
When I read those criteria by people who I will never know about what it takes to ‘be a writer ‘ and that most people who read what they said about what it takes to’ be a writer’, will probably never meet and that they took it upon themselves to define people because they have access to the internet and that more then a few people would be discouraged by them all I can say to those haters is:
” You make my ass want to chew tobacco. Shut the hell up, go write something meaningful that could actually help shape a writer or the world in general or give blood or do something useful with your life.
And if you are out there writing, and living the experience and it’s an important part of you life then yes you are a writer.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise
ps I fucking hate bullies
If you were the new leader of your country and had the chance to transform something that’s currently an annoyance (or worse) into a very fun activity, what would it be? How would you go about the change, and why would you choose that particular thing?
If I could change one thing, I’d make Election Season fun.
I’d go back to putting voting booths in Saloons- so I guess that means Hooters.
Or better yet Crispy Kremes.
And instead of debates, I’d have the candidates play darts and do that race where you run with an egg on a spoon because from what I’ve seen that’s what it’s going to feel like they’re doing 99.9% of the time anyway.
Oh and if people start acting nasty to their friends or candidate shaming people who are running for office, I’d make them spend a week living as a homeless person.
I’m not sure why exactly, though I think it has something to do with learning what it’s liked to be shamed for just existing or not ‘acting right’.
Best of all, if you vote I’d give you more then a sticker.
I’d give out gift certificates for Pizza.
You vote and the machine spits out a coupon for a free pizza.
Sounds like fun doesn’t it?
The thing of it is,
If I were REALLY made leader of my own country there wouldn’t be elections and I sure as Hell wouldn’t give out free pizza.
So cherish and protect what you have.
I could be in charge.
And I’d treat my dog and cats better then you.
Count on it.
When my sons were little- they were were around eight and nine years old- they were into the toys and fads of the times.
At least that’s all I remember them being into.
But when they branched out they managed to do it with my stuff or our family cat.
One Summer my youngest son wrapped our cat up in a baby blanket and was carrying him around the apartment complex and telling people this was his baby brother ” Joe “.
When Julio got tired of playing with ” Joe ” he leaned down and let him run off into the bushes. A few minutes later I get a call from a neighbor who is hysterical because she said she just saw my son throw a baby under the bushes.
But by far the most entertaining moment that wasn’t funny at the time was
THE TIME MY SONS READ A BOOK THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE
I love horror novels, and when my sons were little the biggest reason I didn’t want them pulling those books off my shelf was that some were 1st Edition hardcovers.
But of course they eventually did and what I learned later was that my middle son was reading one of them out loud to my youngest son when they went to bed at night.
They were apparently reading the Exorcist.
They were nine and eight at the time.
One night me and Luis left our boys with a sitter and went to the movies.
When we came home and she said they went to bed on time and went to sleep right away, hadn’t made a peep all evening and right away the alarm bells went off and I went straight down the hall to their room.
I opened open the door and the door catches on something. I reach around and look down and it’s my copy of the Exorcist .
And there fast asleep in their sleeping bags in the middle of the floor circled by their stuffed animals are my sons.
They’re wearing their bicycle helmets and and they’ve got their Nerf swords locked in their hands and sleeping with them is our cat who looks up at me and hisses.
My brain at this point sort of overloads and I look at my book and the spine is broken and two of the pages are not quite ripped out of the book but they’re bent.
I guess you can’t throw an open book against a wall and not have it suffer some damage, right?
Damn, bought that book with my own money when I was only a few years older then they are now, it was one of my prized possessions ( no pun intended)
I left them like that and in the morning I go into their room and I’m going to launch into my ruined book and how it would not be ruined had they KEPT THEIR HANDS OFF OF MY STUFF.
Instead when I open my mouth what comes out is:
” Wake Up! The power of Christ Compels You!”
Once they stopped screaming and we peeled our very angry cat off of the curtains we had a chat about
NOT TOUCHING MY BOOKS.
I’ll be honest.
It was funny then, it’s funny now.
It should be noted though that I did not receive a Mother’s Day card that year.