Show Offs

Writers don’t usually come off as the most show offy (showy off?) people. In fact, they actually tend to be quite self-conscious of their craft. Or at least we aren’t strangers to bouts of doubt concerning what we’ve created. (Looking back at much of my early stuff proves that some of that doubt, at least for me, wasn’t misplaced. Thank goodness I’ve improved.) I can honestly say that quite a few friends and family have asked to read my book and I’ve told the majority NO. I’m not ready for people to see it yet. It’s not perfect. It needs work. It’s being revised. (That last one is actually true. I don’t see the point of letting anybody read something that is going through changes since the end product is going to be different. The only people who do get to read it are the people who are helping to suggest the changes, and those people are a select few because I don’t actually trust most people to give constructive, helpful criticism.)

Writers are definitely there own worst critics. I could probably just say that about artists in general whether they be writers, painters, drawers, musicians, sculptors, what have you. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. The point is that we don’t feel like showing off very often. Contrary to the shelves and shelves filled with books at local libraries and book stores that would seem as evidence against, writers have a hard time showing off.

And yet today, I feel like doing just that.

Let me give a little background. I had to take a class in order to ensure I still had a job next year. The class lasted two weekends in which I was in class from 8AM to about 3:30PM Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t matter what this class covered or all we did. I want to talk about just one activity that myself and my fellow classmates (all teachers from all different levels, grades, subjects and experience) participated in.

The first instruction our teacher gave us was to line ourselves up according to how well we thought we wrote. All the people who were very unsure of or thought that their writing was horrible stood at one end of the line and the people who felt like expert writers who had superb talent with the spoken word stood at the opposite end. Everyone else were to align themselves in between depending on where they thought they fell on the scale.

There’s no surprises or unexpected plot twist coming. I’m not about to tell you that I put myself down with the less-talented writers. I want to be a published author. I better see myself as a gifted writer or else find a different dream to work towards.

So there I am standing at the very front of the line absolutely sure of myself. No one even challenged me. It was such a nice feeling. I really should remember it next time I’m slogging through a particularly difficult scene that just won’t straighten itself out no matter how I revise it.

I’ll even admit that when the teacher asked the people at the top part of the line why they placed themselves there, I felt the urge to proclaim, “I’m writing a book so I can be an author and I started writing when I won a grade school book writing contest* by writing a story that was simply for my own enjoyment.” I left those parts out, though, and just made some general statement about always loving to write and enjoying it so much and what not.

Then we got to the actual writing, which we had to share with a partner. We were supposed to say something we liked about our partner’s essay and something they could improve on. My partner simply told me, “It’s perfect. You don’t need to improve anything.”

I could go into more conceited details, but what else is important? My awesome writing skills were validated today. I probably won’t remember this the next time I’m working on my book (tomorrow), but for now, I just want to bask in that feeling.

So now without further ado, here is the piece that won me such praise (from one person). It’s far from a finished piece. We had only ten minutes to write. And I didn’t make any revisions (this was originally hand written). Tell me what you think!

The “pop” of tennis balls hitting the clay court or connecting with racquets is the most soothing sound of my day. I can’t wait to get on the court and start swinging my racquet. The purple grip on my racquet clashes with the metallic green of the frame and its dirty, worn and fits perfectly in my hand. The sun is warm, a soft breeze blowing. It’s perfect weather for playing tennis, but then in Texas, every day is, even the overcast ones.

Later in life, I’ll miss the tan being out in the sun everyday brought to my skin, but it won’t be the thing I miss most.

My teammates-my friends-and I pass the upper classmen already warming up on the courts. Even though we’ve all been playing as a team for months, I’m still in awe of them. I know that I’m already a much better player than I was at the beginning of the school year. I only picked up a racquet for the first time last year at the end of the 8th grade and the only kind I had available to me was the old wooden ones with the small head. I was lucky back then just to get the racquet to connect with the ball.

Now as I take up my position on the court with my doubles partner Antonia to start warming up with a couple of the other freshmen on the other side of the net, the motion of bouncing the ball off the gritty clay top and sending it over the net doesn’t even take thought. Shoe’s scuff and partners call to each other as they claim possession of sending the ball back over the net or give that job to their partner.

*Okay, okay, it was just the classroom level portion. Still, I didn’t know that our stories were going to be judged, and by a class a grade-level up, so when I found out that mine had won, I was definitely surprised.

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