A few weeks ago, as I was putting some flowers on my dad’s grave for his birthday,
I happened to notice the name of my former English/form teacher on a neighbouring stone. Immediately memories of my happy school days came to mind and one very poignant experience in particular.
Do readers remember when we had to write compositions? Each week we were set a composition to do as homework and a title I will always remember was: “The Face at the Window”.
I was never that good at writing and quizzed my mum as to what I could write. I remember sitting with her and her suggesting to me to possibly think about a lonely old man who sat in his window every day who I waved to as I walked to and from school; a man that I occasionally helped out by taking him things he needed and spending time with him to cheer him up.
One day this man died, as did the face at the window. I can honestly say mum did not write a word for me but I went off, inspired to write, and joyfully handed in my essay – only to feel heartbtoken when I was handed it back with a “See Me” written in red at the bottom of the page and a score of 0/10.
What was this about? My teacher told me that it was a lovely story but because it had obviously not been written by me she could not give me a mark. I tried to explain but with no joy.
From that day on, and as strange as it may sound, my love of writing began.
The hurt felt at that time has never left me, yet I was determined to prove, more so for myself, that I could write and that I could enjoy writing.
I started with writing a daily diary, something I have done for many, many years, and I went on to pass English exams; qualified as a teacher and progressed to a head teacher.
Much has happened since but now I feel proud and privileged to have written a column in the Evening Telegraph, on a fortnightly basis for over six years, this being number 152. I love it. With the number of words written for these (well over 70,000) I could have written my book.
I read recently that the word count for War and Peace is 544,406 words. Somehow I know I have a huge task ahead of me to get my book written; a project that will be achieved, all thanks to receiving encouragement from mum and a zero mark all those years ago.