The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

I was in Class 6. I was already an avid reader, but the books I read were anything by Enid Blyton, the Nancy Drew stuff, abridged versions of English classics and a few Sweet Valley twins thrown in for extra spice. Kid stuff.


Then Mr. Marshall happened. My English teacher, and his own curriculum introduced itself to my class. John Steinbeck, E.B. White...these were authors he made us read, and I happily realized that good literature did not necessarily mean having to put yourself through Dickens. He made us indulge in quality reading, but he made it fun. And believe me when I say this - any teacher who could make John Steinbeck fun was one special teacher!

Till I was in that class, my English writing had exclusively consisted of homework and exam writing. Maybe an additional three or four letters in between written to my parents when they were abroad. That was the sum total.

Then Mr.Marshall introduced me to 'The Journal'. We each had to get a book (like the CR books kids use in SL) and every week, we had to hand in a piece of creative writing. It could be anything - a story, an essay, letters...whatever took our fancy. He taught me the meaning of creativity. Mr. Marshall taught me to write.

I remember the first time I had to write my journal. I struggled and struggled to find something to write about and finally wrote a story based on a cartoon I had watched. Which was neither very creative, nor very well written. And having been based on a cartoon (that too one I remembered so poorly at the time), it had no ending. I was compelled to continue it every week.
I thought that my journal was doomed.

But Mr. Marshall kept encouraging me, and needling me to write shorter stories, because for some strange reason, he thought that I could. And I did. I think it was after a month (four journal attempts), but it could have been longer. I wrote a story that was exclusively a product of my imagination. At that time, it was the most difficult thing I had ever written.

However, Mr.Marshall wasn't going to be content with just that. Without even reading my first attempt at genuine creative writing, he asked me to read it aloud to my whole class. I was the new kid, just barely a month in school, with almost no friends and zero self esteem. And there I was, standing in front of everyone, with a story I lost faith in as soon as I had to stand up. I somehow managed to read it to the end. And at the end, the class applauded. Mr. Marshall applauded.

Writing, and writing my journal was never a problem after that, and it was with gleeful pride that I gave my journal to classmates who wanted to read the stories I had come up with.

20 years have passed since then. I've done a hell of a lot of reading, and almost as much writing. I am able to discuss the similarities and differences between Hamlet and Oedipus with random people in the subway (to which another English teacher, Mr. Siegfried also deserves credit) and I have enough confidence in my writing to have a public blog. But I know, that without Mr. Marshall, none of this would be possible. So.

Thank you, Mr. Marshall.

2 comments:

mr.marshall would be proud :)

Thank you so much!

I am no great writer, but at least I'm not afraid to connect pen to paper.

He was such an incredible teacher, and I am so glad that he taught me. Some teachers you never forget, and he was one of them.

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