Illegible is the term used to describe writing that is difficult to read. Hearing that word so often In my childhood–I practically knew the spelling, long before I could write it clearly.
As I recall, my handwriting during those elementary school days was indeed horrible. Most of my classmates made fun of me saying “This is the English Composition class, not Arts and Craft.” Other mockingly said, “The boy is Chinese.” Nothing on those pages identified with the letters of the alphabet.
The #2-pencil marks on the white, double lined pages of my copy-book were my best efforts. Though, it could have easily been compared to abstract art–something is being said, but the logic is obscure. I honestly believe the Curator of the national museum would have classified my writing, as original artifacts from an ancient civilization. A highlighted sticky note attached would say—unknown language, yet to be translated.
But with all certainty, I confess—I wrote whatever was on the page. Undoubtedly, it was the language of our British Colony–English. (I was born and raised in Trinidad–an Island in the Caribbean). The scribbled scratches, the overly gratuitous capitalization, and most distinctively the several blistered, round holes in the page, caused by an over-used coarse eraser moistened with spit. I quickly touched my tongue with the grey and white, two-inches-long rubber-like material and in aggressive circular motions—I desperately tried to remove the misplaced letters–only to compound the ambiguity, of my initial endeavor.
Anyone attempting to translate the enigmatic mixture would quickly stumble over these taller letters in the middle of the word. Without pattern or sequence, capital letters appeared like alphabet gone wild. My teachers, who of course were never prepared to peruse the rubble, or do any excavation–to determine what was attempted–often gave up in utter frustration. “What in the world is this mess?” They all asked in disgust.
Neither of my teachers, our family doctor, nor my parents could determine the cause, or put a handle on this rare condition. What’s even worse—they could not find a suitable remedy for my complaint. (Note: I was not the one complaining.)
However, I personally named this perplexing condition, “dys-letter-Xia.” (A mild mutation of the host.) This amorphous condition affects one in seven billion people in the world. The helpless victim suffers from an irresistible tendency to randomly insert capital letters in “eVeRy WOrd.”
However, I was not mentally challenged; neither did I display any visible signs of muscular or skeletal deformities.
Miss Huggins, the school nurse, said’ “The child’s cognitive skills appear to be normal and are consistent with the average male in his age group.”
Moreover, all my scribbled scratches closely resembled the syntax of an over-worked, ready to retire stenographer– desperately trying to maintain a steady hand after an extended weekend with her spirited companion–Vodka.
Therefore, all my class assignments, including homework were graded “F”-failed. Almost every line of my “Weak attempt at composition” as Ms. Pablo, my English teacher lamented, was an aggressively passive sentence. The past tense was confused with the present and my point of view… well, there was no point in view.
My adverbs provoked my teachers to ask: how, when, where, and OMG! Why?
Adjectives mystified rather than described.
Commas were misplaced everywhere like a toddlers’ playroom.
Colons, took the place of semi-colons, causing diarrhea-like conditions with no stops, except at the end of my so-called messy essay.
NOUNS wore caps. On every letter.
Pronouns he, she, it, they and them, played the role of conjunctions.
The overworked conjunction “but” began almost every sentence.
But, I tried–God knows I did my best.
It was not until my third year in high school; the Math-Teacher came to the rescue. Ms. Sooklalsingh bought penmanship books for the entire class. (Apparently, I was not the only one with writing issues.) Consequently, after two weeks of rigorous practice, one exercise after another, my writing dramatically improved– much to the delight of all my instructors. For the first time, I began seeing complimentary A’s and smiley faces on my assignments. Finally, I am learning to write so that others can read.
Now, here am I, after almost 15 years in Accounting, and 22 years as a self-employed Home Remodeling Contractor…I’m changing careers again. I want to become a writer. I’ve always loved writing. Others can now read what I write. I am the proud owner of a Dell desktop, equipped with Windows 10 and Office 360, Word Excel. I’m typing at least 20 words per minute when I’m not editing as I write.
I have been writing articles, short stories, sermons, and the occasional news release for the past 30 years off and on. I enjoy writing. I will continue to write. One day I will be a great writer.
However, on completing my last assignment with Writers Digest University, I’m desperately in need of a Pepcid-A-C for my In-Digest-ion. I am still gulping… totally uncomfortable, struggling almost to despair in a desperate attempt to craft a personal essay.
My instructor said I’m doing well in expressing my opinions. But. I need to explore the topic, taking the readers on a journey of interesting facts and information about my subject– this she emphasized is the essence of essay writing.
So, as I assay to follow her advice on crafting the personal essay–without ranting or preaching as she critiqued–but taking the reader on an adventure–exploring the subject. I’m determined to work harder, pressing toward the mark of excellence. “I will write and re-write until I write it right.”
But, what my instructor doesn’t know, is that I’m a Bible-toting, foot-stomping, hallelujah-shouting, tongue-talking– Born-Again-Preacher. This, I have done all my life, multi-tasking along the way. Yes, I love to tell “The Good-Ole-Gospel Story.” I love to tell of Jesus–his death on Calvary, his burial in a borrowed tomb and, his glorious resurrection on Sunday morning. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Stomp! Stomp!
Therefore, in my every attempt at a personal essay or short story–I cannot help but, frequent the crystal-clear waters of my theological persuasion. There, I baptize my writing in Biblical quotations with awe-inspiring, Christological references–such that, my essays are tainted by sermons.
Nevertheless, I will continue to study these timeless classics: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers, and Crafting the Personal Essay by Dinty W. Moore. I have yet to purchase, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus. I will also continue to take advantage of those free online grammar courses by “The Owl” at Purdue University and English Grammar and Composition Lessons by Richard Nordquist.
Until I apprehend that for which I am apprehended off. I will continue the pursuit–reading for hours each day, then writing late into the midnight hours. I will follow the instructions in my “Daily Writing Tips” thus “I will aspire to leave ‘that’ out.”(But, if I leave that out how do I say–that. I guess I can’t say–that)
I don’t want to write like anyone else. Why should I copy or become the duplicate of another? I just want to be me. My voice, my style–I’ve got something to say, and I will declare it, simply and succinctly. “I’m going to write for the reader” as under oath in a courtroom. I count it an honor and more-so a responsibility to testify in writing to every man, every woman and all in between–“So help me God.”
It is written, “In the beginning, God said” (Genesis 1:3). Whatever he said came to pass. We read the historical accounts in chronological volumes of the Holy Bible. Likewise, I’ll continue to write.
In conclusion–as I read, I write.
As I write, I’m learning not to edit.
When I edit, I do so with the mindset of the several editors I have encountered in my career. Books I have read; online courses I have taken. Instructions I’ve received from so many sources in my eager quest to become a writer.
A picker I am, but an author I’ll be,
A blank page or mental block will not stop me.
I love to write, for me its therapy
Almost anything inspires me.
I can write about time and years
Animals: Lions, tigers, and bears
Books and schools, machines and tools
Husbands and wives, the days of our lives
Money and sex, why people love to text
Cream and Coffee,
Milk and sugar, you name it
Just give me a minute
Let me research the topic
And I’ll write about it.
I may not always get it right
but be sure, I’m going to write.
One day my story carved out of the mountains and valleys of my life’s experiences will be the number one New York best seller.
I am a writer.
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