I have always been a writer. At age twelve, more or less, I wrote a novel. Although I don’t recall any details of the plot, or characterization, I do remember a name…Joyce Reena Phane. That was to be my pen name, I believe. To me that name was beautiful, and the very essence of sophistication. I was quite proud of my novel, such as it was, and when my aunt asked to read it I was delighted. Aunt Jada was a writer herself, and was working on a novel dealing with a group of Kent State students during the Vietnam War. She loved my novel, and was impressed enough to talk with her sister, my mother, about it.
That was the end of that. My mother was a very practical and down-to-earth woman, whose no-nonsense beliefs had no room for frivolous or non-productive pursuits. As far as she was concerned no one made a living from writing books, especially if they had no college education–and the prospect of ME going to college was out of the question. Besides, my writing was childish, the plot far-fetched and the characters unrealistic…and the pen name I had chosen so carefully was silly and unlike a name any real person would have. The early….and only…draft of that novel consisted of several notebook paper pages, which no longer exist.
I did continue my creative writing, with encouragement from my seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Wilkinson.
I have some early poetry written in a brown notebook, one of those old dime-store notebooks that were cheap and plentiful. In addition to my own works of poetry, I have in those pages the complete Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven, copied in my neat and even cursive handwriting. Also much of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s masterpiece which had also been immortalized as our high school play. I was so enamored of that classic that I saw fit to enter much of the original play into my notebook. There is also some poetry that I can still recite in part this many decades later…I was quite proud of my poems which also immortalized some of my early loves in my handwriting. I used a fountain pen with real ink, and when I made an error I ripped out the notebook page entirely and started over. I still think that the handwriting on those pages are perhaps the most endearing aspect of the whole brown notebook. I wish I still loved my handwriting as well as I did then.
As for Shakespeare, my exposure to his works were in my Junior or Senior year of high school, when the truly marvelous reading by our English Literature teacher–who was also the school principal–sends shivers up my spine to this day. I always stayed on Miss Edwards’ good side. She was a small woman in stature, tough as any marine sergeant, and did not need any police personnel to maintain order over her classes–or her school. One of the things I liked about Miss Edwards is that she liked my writing…she is definitely one of my mentors who had a positive effect on my life.
Ah well– I will never make it as a poet, but as long as I like my poetry and other bloggers occasionally say something nice about it as well–it is worth the oft-times lame verse that escapes my fountain pen….er, keyboard.
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