THE SIMPLE LIFE: It's all about inspiration
By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
When was it that I discovered my love for words? When was it that I found I could hear words and jumbled up in my head, and then grab them one by one and drop them on to paper? Hmmmmmmm. Let me think...
As far back as I remember, I had always been a reader. In fact, going to the library was one of my special places. Mom and my brother and sisters would go to the Westernport Library to browse through the books in our favorite aisles. Old-fashioned romance was my favorite - stories about Victorian cottages on the cliffs rising over the New England coast, long lost love and sweet stories about reconnection and finding love after so many challenges. I read books and listened to my records and my portable radio until I fell asleep each night. Yes, I became quite the romantic, quite the dreamer.
1972. I was 14 years old, and I was now at the age when lyrics to songs spoke to me - music of all kinds, but most especially soft rock and love songs. Words.
I remember a special English teacher in eighth grade (or was it tenth grade?) who gave us a poetry assignment. Moans and groans were heard all throughout the classroom. "Not poetry, Miss Laughlin!"
But, no groans from me. Inside, I was jumping and skipping and dancing! Finally, an opportunity to get all that I had to say down in poetry form. Just my cup of tea, as one would say.
I would give ANYTHING to have that notebook assignment in my collection of old school papers and report cards! Unfortunately I don't, but I can remember so many details. This was the first time I could remember that a teacher I admired was going to give me feedback on my WORDS, my thoughts, my most private feelings on paper - for no one else's eyes but hers.
There were hours and lots of teardrops as I spilled my words into my little notebook. The words flowed quickly, liked a waterfall after a day's hard rain - and somehow I was able to pour my very soul out in each word as I wrote it. Such a magnificent, powerful experience it was. To this day, I remember how meaningful the assignment was. Absolutely memorable, even now decades later.
The time soon came to turn in the poetry notebooks, and being so filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment - I hoped for the best of grades. Surely Miss Laughlin would understand, and recognize how much this project meant to me.
It would be days before the graded notebooks were returned. When my beautiful, most prized possession was in my hands, I could barely contain myself. I opened my book, and started leafing through page after page - trying my hardest to grasp the fact that this project netted me a “C.” An ugly, average, nothing special “C.” My disappointment was so overwhelming, so devastating, so defeating. Why? Why? Average?
AND LOOK AT ALL OF THESE COMMENTS IN RED INK!!!!!!!
I closed my book, determined to wait until that evening when I was in my bedroom with my James Taylor music playing. Yes, THAT would do for the mood I was in, for sure.
Somehow, I drifted throughout the rest of the day, and made it to my bed and my record player. With my poetry book in my hand and my night lamp dimly lighting my room - I opened my book to see what this red ink had to say.
No, I don't remember exactly what the remarks were, but they were full of harsh - yet constructive criticism. There was also kindness there, and hope. Miss Laughlin saw promise in this green writer. She valued my efforts, and took so much time to offer insight, productive and useful ways to improve, and even ways to put feelings into words truthfully.
She taught me to always write with truth, and write what I was knowledgeable about. She cared enough to see that I took this assignment seriously, and she was the first person in my life who thought I had special, important things to say. She was the first person in my life who told me that there was nothing wrong with being average. But, she also told me that I could be exceptional and extraordinary as long as I continued to read, study and write. "Always write - because you will find that there is always someone who will "get you"... always someone who will feel your words if they are real."
Here I am, nearly 50 years later - bringing words to life, sometimes pulling words straight out of the cobwebs and making sense of them.
Is being a writer going to change the world? No, not here in my own little corner of my little hometown. Will I ever be rich - counting millions with my words? No, but as long as my cobwebs get crowded up there, the words will still pour out - and maybe, just maybe someone will feel some of my truth. And, that will be thanks to Miss Laughlin - who never meant to overwhelm me, devastate me, or defeat me. Instead, she did what I still try to do today - INSPIRE.
Hope y'all will be here next week. Maybe I'll find some words hanging around.