Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lack of Comprehension

I was 17. I was a poet. I was frustrated.

You know how there's always one person you respect and are just awe-struck by? My high school English teacher was said person. And said person was ripping on a piece I'd re-written too many times to count at his request.
"Show. Don't tell."
"But how do I show without telling?"
"Use your images. Show me the cliff. Show me the snow."
"But how do I - "
"Just show me."
I stood here now, thinking about the countless times I'd been here before. He in his chair, I in my sneakers, with the desk between us. He'd always lean his elbows on the desk, whatever piece of work I'd given him stretched between his slender fingers as he read. His lips had the habit of pursing themselves while he did that. And his blue eyes that could cut glass would soften when he'd lean back in this chair, put his hands behind his head and stare me down. It was like a game for us. Who would cave first?
And then that damned dialogue. Short, relentless, and unyielding.
Countless times I'd walked away, countless times I'd reread his penciled in comments, countless times I'd uttered strings of profanities (sometimes in different languages) and threw out the originals, scribbling down a new version. I'd almost always miss the trashcan though, the wad of tempered trees bouncing to the floor with an almost inaudible thud.
Now I stood before him, he leaning back in his disarming pose, me staring him down defiantly. I swear a I saw a bemused glimmer behind those rectangular glasses of his.

The trash bag made a soft rustle as the printer spit out strings of letters and words.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amanda!

    Alright so, first off (and most inconsequential, I suppose) is that I really dig the colour of your blog! Blood red and royal blue on black-- interesting!

    Anyway, to the heart of the matter:

    I rather love that opening line. "I was 17. I was a poet. I was frustrated." It's great opening that works really well aesthetically, due to the parrallel structure and compact sentence structure. Each part of it hits well in that regard. As well, I think I like it so much because it proves to be an indespensible link for your post as a whole. I mean, when I look at the post, you focus a great deal on descriptions more so than telling-- It seems like a great bit of show versus tell-- ((it seems like you learned from him!)). Because the post is that way though, the reader really relies on the first line to explain exactly what it is that the teacher is reading of yours (as you never expressly 'tell' "poetry").

    The upshot of all my ramblings there is that, I don't think I've seen many peices that rely a great deal on their very first lines as links of explanation, like this, and I really find it intriguing and likeable. Well played.

    I suppose I could see people get 'estranged' if they don't note that the first line carries such explanation, but again, I find it artistically pleasing, rather than harmful.

    Anyway-- this leads me to my next point-- Although you may not ever exactly describe what you're working on with him (besides that it's a peice of some sort) the descriptions that you do offer are interesting in their focus (his 'glimmer', his lips, his posture and so on) are just fantastic to me. I'm big on descriptions. That's how I roll, so I appreciate your descriptions very much. I can hear the sound of the paper, the trash bag-- I can see the teacher-- at least what he might seem like in my mind's eye. All of this is great.

    I suppose there's an element of the enigmatic with the post's ending, and the finality of your relationship with the teacher and your next submitted peice, and I personally enjoyed that too-- Others may desire something more concrete-- some sort of moral maybe, or a final ending to it, but I like this a good deal. I feel like it captures the endless back and forth that comes with being a hopeful writer-- the back and forth between teacher/editor and writer. The back-to-the-keyboard expirience... The toss-out-the-rubbish-and-start-again feeling. I know those too well, and I think your post hits it well.

    Well done.

    (Man, I used a lot of hyphens there... That's MY theme for this comment! :P )