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Know Jack #262 Foolish Scribbling

I was listening to a lecture on how to teach writing to K-12 students. The professor hit on something that gave me pause. His teaching of students was not centered in the usual of today’s public school—no surprise there, the college offering the course think today’s public schools have it wrong from the bottom up.

Anyway, he was against the focus being the forms of writing—the three paragraph essay, listed points, and information vomit we are familiar with. Not that these have no value, but they do not, in themselves, teach clear, cohesive, logical writing.

I thought, clear, cohesive, logical writing—my career is over! I did find some solace in a quote from Peter Benchley that said it took him fifteen years to discover he had no talent for writing, but by that time, he was too famous to quit. So, there is hope for me yet.

This isn’t the first time I have jumped into something with dubious abilities. In 1991, I applied to nursing school with only the knowledge I could handle puke, mucous, and incontinence of bowel and bladder without blinking an eye.

I might have been turned down except the head of the program was impressed by my ACT score and the fact that an old guy was trying to get in. I took a roll of the dice and got my employer to help bankroll the venture which seemed like a good idea since I was broke and working for minimum wage at the time.

Then came two very traumatic events that rocked my confidence. I bought the textbooks and had to wheel them out to the car on a dolly. I worked full time on the night shift—I was never going to be able to read all that!

This was followed by the first day of class and the revelation that we would be studying our butts off not only with the texts but journal articles, lectures, and no bull practical experience. I remember walking out of that first hour trying to figure out how I was going to pay my boss back because there was no way I was ever going to graduate.

I had no real recourse but to hang in there until I failed and got booted out. I had already failed spectacularly at my first choice of careers. It was going to be tough to do so again.

In my second semester, I was tutoring nursing math, and had become my classmates’ go-to guy for “you go first.” I wasn’t the smartest person in the class, nor the most prepared. I didn’t get the best grades, didn’t try to, and didn’t stress over it (a new experience for me). At graduation, I was still around and took home the hospital’s outstanding student nurse plaque. I still can’t write a nursing care plan for crap. But, I can run a Code Blue.

I consider myself to have had a successful nursing career. I put this down to one thing—that I didn’t quit that first day.

As a writer, I have been told I was only “playing” at writing, and that my writing would “never amount to anything.” Those folks are probably right about that. What they didn’t know was that I was not going to quit.

This is not going to sound very impressive to others, but I am proud of it nonetheless. Amazon ranks books according to sales. My first couple of books ranked around 4,000,000 place. Bayou Moon, released in July is sitting at about 500,000.

As I said, not that impressive. However, I am 3.5 million places closer to #1 than I was ten years ago. I’ll take it as a sign not to quit now.


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