This entry into my True Confessions series is really an apology to my 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Fagan.
I’ll give you all a little back story.
In middle school, I was in the 3rd highest class in my grade, 3-C. We were honor students. We were the snarky smartmouths that felt like we could get away with just about any and everything (because we usually did).
Our assigned English teacher, Mr. Asher went out on sabbatical half way through the year and his replacement was Mr. Fagan. On his last day, Mr. Asher asked me to give Mr. Fagan a chance. He was a good teacher and I could possibly learn a lot from him. I told Mr. Asher that I would give him a shot if he didn’t treat me like an idiot (I was a 13-year-old idiot).
My teachers all knew I loved to write. I walked around with a clipboard and instead of class work I wrote a Western with two sisters trying to hold onto their father’s ranch while falling in love with ranch hands (13-year-old, cowboy obsessed idiot LOL.). So the English teacher switch felt like a beloved Nanny abandoning me.
But like I told Mr. Asher, I was going to give him a chance, as long as I wasn’t treated like an idiot.
So on that first day back to school after the New Year Holiday, I walked into my last period of the day. Even though I hated the idea of Mr. Asher not being there, I was willing to move on… until I saw the blackboard.
In big bold letters, Mr. Fagan wrote the words that signed, sealed and delivered my loathing of him.
“What is a Sentence?”
Like I said before, we were an honor roll class. I was going to be a New York Times Best Seller. I could translate Shakespeare without even trying! I’ve read and written reports on Dumas! There wasn’t a test I didn’t score less than a 95%! I was going to take up Greek Tragedies by the end of the school year! How DARE this man, this STRANGER come into what I felt like was MY DOMAIN and insult me like this???
What is a sentence???? I believe my exact words were either “Get the f**k out of here” or “You’ve gotta be f*****g kidding me.” (yeah, I’ve had the mouth of a trucker since way before I was 13).
Needless to say for the rest of the school year I was a right little bitch to Mr. Fagan. I never did my work. I didn’t pay any ounce of attention in class. I had written him off and tossed him aside from the moment I copied his signature and had a permanent hall pass. If I wanted a drink of water, or go to the bathroom, I would simply stand up and walk out.
Now I sit here trying to edit my work. And I’m finding myself wishing that I would have sat my little happy ass down and listened to him. Because with all of my accomplishments, all of my high grades and the fact that I have so much written under my belt, there is one thing that I have tried to hide and am finding that I may not be able to much longer…
The basic concepts of grammar are lost on me.
This could be why my novels are lacking the epic sales that would make me a best seller. For all I know they open my novels and see some glaring mistakes, back out of it. Never to look at it again.
I’m working on this now. But it’s hard. Like reinventing the wheel hard. I write what sounds good to me, then I’m told “it’s passive voice” or “you’re head hopping.” I can put a sentence together without a problem. But there’s no way I could deconstruct it.
So now I’m ready to pull my hair out because I was too much of a stubborn a*****e to listen to my mentor and give the poor man a chance.
For that Mr. Fagan, I am truly deeply sorry.
I don’t know if he’ll ever read this. But on the 1 billion/1 chance that he does, I really do wish I would have listened in 8th Grade English.
That’s my confession folks.
Till Next Time!