Grades seven through twelve


Art became a kind of salvation for me.  I wasn’t the best, but I was good.  My art teacher said that I was a colourist, and I had no idea what she meant, but I was nonetheless flattered.  If I did know what a colourist was, I might have been even more flattered, because I still liked comic books and graphic novels.

I also started guitar lessons.  I was never quite comfortable with the instrument, but again, I was comfortably mediocre.

I kept on writing and entered a student poetry contest I didn’t place in.

My first attempt at public speaking was lost in a fit of giggles.  My speech was on winter camping, and the best way to keep warm while you slept was to sleep without clothes–oh my!  My classmates enjoyed the effort though, and graded me highly for the entertainment factor alone 🙂

A guest speaker came to my grade seven class.  Unfortunately I don’t remember who he was, though I believe he was a journalist.  I guess you could call it my first workshop.  I wrote a supernatural murder mystery in one sitting and read it out to the class.  I really got into it, dramatizing the voices and everything.  Though empowering, I felt a little like a freak.

Grade eight brought more luke-warm success with a few of my stories read out in class.  My teacher’s final report of the year called me apathetic, however, and I had to fight to get into the advanced level classes in high school, despite having the grades to be so placed.  Just because I’d rather be in a book than in class …

I was bored.  I’d do the work I was supposed to do in class, then pick up whatever book I was reading at the time.  My instructors would approach, I’d show them that I was done, they’d advise me to do my homework, so I’d do that, and pick up my book again.  Then, I’d be advised to work ahead.  I hated school then.  Extra study was the last thing I wanted to do.

None of my writing was ever given into the dubious custody of any of my classmates.  I was even cagey with Margaret and took every well-meant criticism to heart.

I can’t remember exactly when, but I caught the Dungeons & Dragons bug.  Margaret’s Dad got her the Player’s Handbook, and shortly thereafter, we picked up the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual.  We started to attend the weekend meetings of the Sudbury Gaming Club at Cambrian College, and eventually tried out other games.  I was a dedicated gamer well into my 20s.

Suddenly, I had another group of people I could consider friends!  And none of them knew me from school.  Bonus.  We went to concerts: Headpins and Helix, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister …  I was a burgeoning head banger in those days.

When high school hit, with my part time job, boyfriends, and everything else that came with it, my writing started to take a back seat.  I became interested in the visual arts again.  I still wasn’t the best, but I was better than some, and I did well enough.

I didn’t stop writing.  I kept on dreaming and I kept on writing down my dreams.  I have several ideas-in-waiting from those days.

Emotional drama, serious illness, and the death of my grandmother kept me unstable, and unable to see clearly enough to commit to what I loved.  Heck, I couldn’t even figure out what that was …

Also enter into my life great teacher number two, Ms. Chapman.  Her classes instilled in me a passion for literature that while slow to kindle, saw me through the rest of my academic career, such as it was.

Chronologically, what happened next was my first year of university.  You can get that bit of detail by reading How it all started in my Work in progress category.

I’ll pick up the tale again next week with Laurentian University.

High school did not constitute the best years of my life.  Really, I kind of hated it.  My saving grace was Margaret.  Despite all the relationship crap and growing apart that always happens in the fraught teenage years, Margaret remains one of my best friends.

How did your high school years affect your development as a creative person?

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