The days of grade school flew by in a flash. Before I knew what had happened I found myself in 7th grade at Donelson High School in the Nashville suburb of Donelson. Today’s distinction within the school grades seems more attuned to the student. Donelson High took us in at 7th grade and kept us until we graduated.
Imagine being a 7th grader changing classes in a large high school with senior high students. My graduating class numbered around 400 students and in 7th grade that meant there were five classes ahead of us as large.
When I had sorted out where I was supposed to be and when, high school life settled in and I found myself enjoying the various challenges of a higher level of learning. Favorite among my classes were those offering the opportunity to write essays or research papers. Putting words to paper and seeing the seed of a story or theme grow to fullness gave me a sense of satisfaction, I suppose much like the farmer whose crops flourish under his caring hands. I truly couldn’t get enough of writing at this point in my life.
I even began to keep a diary at home, but quickly learned that no matter what type of security I attempted parental eyes in the form of my mother’s eyes were finding their way into my written life. I soon gave up keeping a diary and instead would write my thoughts in my mind hoping I wouldn’t forget them all by the time I went away to college.
Somewhere along the way I participated in the annual spelling bee and came out on top winning first place and a trophy declaring me the champion. My love of words had once again served me well. Here’s a grainy, yellowed newspaper clipping announcing my win. Yes, Alice Adams is my high school and college persona (it’s a long story for another day).
During my six years of high school, Daddy kept feeding me with proofreading and editing jobs when I was out of school for holidays, bad winter weather, or summer vacation. Not only did I enjoy making a little money, but also it was another avenue for my education in writing and words. The only part I didn’t like was the government contract work which often dealt with the assembling and disassembling of military weapons, or other major equipment items, none of these of interest to a teenaged girl.
Entering Martin Methodist College in fall 1964, I continued to love English classes where many papers and research projects were assigned as well as reading the classics. I fell in love my freshman year with Jane Austen and William Faulkner. A professor encouraged me in my writing efforts and to him I’ll be forever indebted. His words of praise told me I just might be on to something as I dreamed of being a writer.
My sophomore year in college found me editing the yearbook as well as acting layout editor of the school newspaper. Both positions offered me the opportunity to try my hand at writing in a journalistic vein. Unfortunately, at mid-year I was sent home because of illness and wasn’t allowed to return that year.
By fall of the next year, I was thinking of marriage to a friend from grade school, which is an entirely separate story and one which holds no encouragement for my writing. We’ll just let that one die on the page.
UP NEXT: The next installment takes me into the working world and even there my writing was a large part of my identity.
Sherrey, I love these thumbnail sketches of your early life and how they focus on words and writing. The synopsis style has me wanting to read more! And I’m so impressed that you won that essay contest and spelling bee. How I wish I’d been introduced to writing early on as you were. I have no idea why I hardly remember writing anything but a few book reports.
BTW, here’s a scanning tip for everyone. You mention that the newspaper picture is grainy. Yes, newspaper pictures are always grainy because the pictures are converted to pixels for printing, defined in lines per inch.All printing presses work this way and newspapers use the fewest pixels. Scanners also scan in pixels, and if they aren’t in sync with the item you’re scanning, they amplify the effect. In case you didn’t know, you can minimize this graininess by using the full featured interface on your scanner (Professional Mode on an Epson) and selecting Descreening. Epsons allow you to set the scan for Newspaper-85 lpi, Magazine-133 lpi and Fine Print-175 lpi. Choose the right setting and scan at 300 dpi to start with. If that makes the picture too big, reduce the size later for smoothest results.
Sharon, I’m glad you’re enjoying my little sketches of my life before now. With a dad in printing and publishing, one couldn’t avoid the words and they drew me to writing. And thanks for the scanning tip. I’m copying it out and saving it for future reference. You are a storehouse of technological goodies.
I’m only beginning to realize how few people have a clue hot to get the best results from their scanners.
BTW, I forgot to mention earlier that my workaround for nosy family members was to teach myself old German script. I can hardly read my own entries today. Then, to double lock the safe, I wrote sensitive stuff in French in Old German script. Nobody else in the family knew a word of French. And I didn’t write anything that mattered much anyway. I don’t know why I was so concerned. I don’t think anyone gave a hoot, but i do know my mother snooped everywhere.
I was spoiled after years of working in a law firm where we had other employees responsible for scanning, sending faxes, etc. When I retired, I didn’t bother myself to figure out what the knowledge base behind all my computer equipment was. Now I’m learning on the fly!
Love how you got around extra eyes reading your journal entries!
I learned so much about you here! Alice Adams! What a great clipping!
Luanne, Alice Adams is my alter ego! The clipping was among many I found in mom’s things when she died. There is a vignette in my memoir about those clippings. There was a reason behind them that didn’t necessarily fit the norm. Now ponder that and pray the memoir is finished soon!
I can’t wait to read it!
I can’t wait to be finished so you can read it! 🙂
It’s good to look back at this age and write about our early years. You and I share a lifelong love for words and for writing. I also did a lot of writing between ages 12 and 22. In your last enigmatic statement, I sense that thinking about marriage may have been a distraction as it was for me. In my case, both romance and marriage were huge distractions/deterrents as well as two children and a demanding career at the top of my game. The important thing is we’re still writing. Also, you are putting your words out there to inspire other writers like me to take our writing to another level.
Pennie, with that first marriage and divorce my life unraveled so. If I hadn’t had my young son, I fear what I might have done. As it was, I had to work and keep a roof over our heads, etc. I too was in a demanding job at the time and had no time for writing, except to stay in touch with my attorney. You awed and humbled me with your words, “you are putting your words out there to inspire other writers like me to take our writing to another level.” I certainly don’t see my efforts in that light.
Sherrey, you’ve been a writer since the start! I felt so sad when you wrote about not being able to keep a journal but you found a way to get around that one and went on to follow your dream. And baby, look at you now!!Thanks for sharing your fascinating journey from then until now. And, I suspect the best is yet to come for you. 🙂
Kathy, the journal situation was a frustrating one. It went along with other privacy issues but when something is locked, you don’t take liberties! I’m so glad readers are enjoying this little timeline stories. They actually are keeping me on track with my memoir. Wish I’d done them sooner.
These are fun posts, Alice Adams. I enjoyed this one and the one before it. (The link to the first one appears to be broken.) I wonder about the role of contests in authors’ lives. They appear to help cement the identity of loving words, reading and writing stories, and they definitely strengthen the desire to compete. That early recognition of one’s love is wonderful. Less sure about the competition. Grown-up writers still deal with both. 🙂
Alice checking in with Shirley! Isn’t it amazing what is revealed in a simple blog post? BTW, the first link has been repaired. I’m not a huge fan of competition whether in the arts or in sports. I think today’s children get more taste of competition than I’d ever want one of mine to experience. And yes, we grown-up writers get a full measure of both. Thanks for stopping by!
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