Righteous Indignation postWhen I was in 6th grade, our homework for English class every Thursday was to write a short story. On Friday, every one of us stood in front of the class, one at a time, and read our stories out loud. Our teacher would come up with a title, and from that, we’d create. And no two stories were similar, not even remotely.

I loved this assignment. I can’t tell you how much I loved this assignment and looked forward to it every week.

I would love to find those old stories now and re-read them. I’m pretty sure I would have kept them, and that those old hand-written stories must be in my parents’ house somewhere. One of these days, I’m going to spend some time looking for them (when I have nothing else better to do).

I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, trying to remember some of the titles or what I wrote about. Only a few come to mind, the forerunner was a story about werewolves. I remember it especially because I wrote about this werewolf family who were trying to pass themselves off as humans, and it was comical because everything they did had a wolfy flair to it. Even their family name, the Werewoffs, practically screamed werewolf.

Anyway, I read my story, delving into the lives of the Werewoffs and their bungling ability to keep their secret—but only just barely. It was brilliant. And my classmates roared with laughter.

After everyone had read each week, our teacher would collect the stories and grade them over the weekend. On Monday, you’d see how you did—even though, at that point you’d already read it and gauged the audience, I mean, your fellow classmates’ reaction.

But when I got this particular story back on Monday, my teacher had changed the spelling from Werewoff to Werewolf, every single time I’d written it. Toward the end of the story, she even started to question her red pen markings, and wrote a note in the margin asking if I’d purposely spelled it wrong. I actually had to go up to her desk and tell her that I meant to do that, yes, I did it on purpose, in fact, it’s one of the details that made the story! If I’d just named them Mr. and Mrs. Werewolf, where’s the fun of trying to keep that a secret? Did she not listen to my story at all when I read it? I enunciated the name, for crying out loud! (And yes, a sixth grade girl should know what enunciation means.) And that’s when it hit me: She hadn’t been listening. Not at all.

The first time is always the worst, but writers can have many moments in their lives when they realize no one’s listening, no one’s reading, no one’s paying attention–especially the people who should be. But what’s a writer to do?

In my case, I kept writing anyway.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this one?

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Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

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