Dear Universal Editor:
Teachers are like cops. They either get in for all the right reasons or they’re exactly the kind of people that you just don’t want in that field. That’s what I got with those three elementary teachers, and several other teachers along the way. I know from hearing the stories of others that it isn’t just crappy teachers in public schools. Nuns appear to be a particularly vicious phenomenon, and by now we’ve all heard about the conditions of the field of Catholic priesthood, the non-behavioral regulation of private schools, and the government interference that makes it impossible for the good teachers to even hang on and teach.
I know from my own experience that really, most teachers are bigots. I got treated poorly, as though my own contributions were somehow invalid or faked, until I encountered a teacher who raised a fat kid herself, and who probably was a fat kid at some point. I’m positive that my grades were at least half a point higher than what I was given by my kindergarten, first grade and fifth grade teachers. I’m also certain that as more children of color started attending those schools, their bigotry focused more on them. Now, I know I had good teachers – and they were few, and far between, and easily burned out as punishment for actually caring.
After all, kids of color are more likely to be disciplined and denied their education. I was just the fat kid around before the people with darker skin showed up.
I know what happened to me, and I know it had nothing to do with what I created, what I turned in, what work I did – after all, I would turn in things that were smart, right on and funny alongside my thin male counterpart and his would be praised for “humor” while I would be docked for “attitude” despite relevance to the lessons. So no, the problem was never me. I did my very best, but my teachers did not make an effort to be their very best, and took out their own fears of having a fat body and their own assumptions of my laziness over the very clearly hard work I put in front of them.
So in my defense – I was an awesome student.
My teachers at T-Ball, however, sucked ballz. Given their bigotry towards me and towards the poor kids in class, they had no business teaching at all.
So I started the Artist’s Way in 2008, mostly as a sort of me-too with Xiane and Cassidy and Angelique, two being women in the Etsy beauty products guild I was in. It’s one of those situations where life definitely has a purpose – the beauty stuff was a huge diversion from what I knew I was supposed to be doing. This 12 week series turned into exactly the kind of guidance I needed because it made me pause and look not just at my creative habits but at my entire life.
The Artist’s Way proved so helpful I moved on to Finding Water. Then on to Walking in This World. Then I just kept going…and only this year have I sort of caught up, with the Artist’s Way for Parents sitting on my Kindle despite my not having children.
The small steps, the daily work, the wisdom – for me, it helped. Because now I have my first published book to show for it:
At last, it’s out – and it would never be finished without my adherence to the Artist’s Way path. You can get your own copy at Amazon or any other bookstore your heart desires. You may want to ask your favorite indie bookseller to order a copy.
But… it’s out. I did it.
And after I post this I’m going to work on the next two books I have contracted.
The exercise in Sound of Paper today is not good for public disclosure. When that happens, I’m trying to find videos on creativity, art appreciation bits, photography, or blog posts from other people traveling the Artist’s Way path.
Today’s about writing badly resonates with me. I have been making the last few years the path of the beginner. I lived with two perfectionists growing up – and as a fat child, I was utterly imperfect, beyond correction, and I am still treated by them as though this is some infraction I have committed against them personally because I am not exactly who they demanded I be. (No, G.O.D committed the infraction – it was one of this little “f you’s,” that the Creative Force drops after it watches things go on for awhile – sort of like this particular f-u from God to free-will interfering conservatives.) Instead, I have pursued my life as my fat, highly organized yet at times messy and beautiful self.*
What I’ve also been doing is taking up things I kinda/sorta want to do but told myself I couldn’t. I’m actually glorying in the criticism I’m getting of the bad art in Spellcasting picture book, and the perspective is helping me with the play I’m doing a first draft of as I dive heavily into the revisions of the Divorcing a Real Witch book. I can do it badly! Yes! It’s way more important than making it perfect. Someone else can fiddle with formatting and duck away from actually writing because it’s not “just right.” I get the secret:
NOTHING IS EVER JUST RIGHT. THAT’S WHY CREATION IS NOT STATIC.
*I have a really good life. It’s way better than what those tools were trying to force me into. And I am grateful for the composite DNA from my ancestors, the subvert messages from the few really caring teachers at my school, and for the surprisingly subversive tone of Sassy and Seventeen magazine in the 1990s.