An Authors Defining Moments Unraveled
I remember my sixth-grade English teacher. Fresh out of college she walked in the door with an attitude. Flawless in looks, organized, and a stickler for rules, I hated her. My handwriting was atrocious no matter how hard I tried to open the scrawl. I often left out periods, overused the comma, and worse yet, I extended my margins. Assignment after assignment met with red marks, comments and deductions for my weaknesses. All my As turned into Bs and my insides boiled, until one day I complained.
Miss Perfect claimed she was treating us as adults, college level writers. She accused me of being lazy. She challenged me to teach the next unit. Plied with her teacher’s manual and a series of American short stories, I had three weeks to read, analyze, research current events, and create a class that showed the various conflicts man vs. man, nature vs. man, the hero’s journey, and the arc of a story. Undaunted I plowed through as if my life depended on it. Half-way through the 21 days, I sought her help. She reviewed my outline for each story, my assumptions, pertinent articles, and examples of dialogue and descriptions, that the reader could discover. She tweaked my examples, made me dig deeper, until my week of teaching arrived.
I won the class over and pushed them to explain. Miss Perfect gave me an A and I conceded that she knew what she was doing. I’d love to tell you my handwriting improved, my commas and periods were well placed. But I often slipped up. We arrived at a compromise. She’d graded me on my content but still marked in red my grammatical errors.
I learned respect, the depth of a story, and the work of a writer. It took me until I was in my forties to declare that I wanted to be an author. After three novels, I thought I was a fiction writer, until I wrote a memoir, and then a collection of essays and short stories. Poems peppered my writing, but I feared the eye of Miss Perfect watching how I ignored poetic rules. Would she come back to haunt me? Or worse yet I feared a true poet would declare me an impostor. Now that my first children’s illustrated book has been released, I no longer define my writing by genre or labels.
We are often asked to define ourselves by what we do. Labels help those asking to sort through their assumptions and apply their responses accordingly. I’m retired which gives a freedom to be a teacher, a student, a journalist, a researcher, a grandmother, and so much more. I can even be lazy.
For the record, I share stories in all forms. I break rules, but not the ones that will confuse readers. I too am a stickler for excellence. I rely heavily on my editors, critique groups, and my inner passions. I’m humbled by the daunting task of revelation. I rely on readers to catch my connections, to bring their conflicts and events to mix in with my stories.
Abbe Rolnick grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. Her first major cultural jolt occurred at age 15 when her family moved to Miami Beach, Florida. To find perspective, she climbed the only non-palm tree at her condo-complex and wrote what she observed. Here, history came alive with her exposure to the Cuban culture. RIVER OF ANGELS, the first novel in her series Generation of Secrets, stems from her experiences during her stay in Puerto Rico.
Other books by Abbe Rolnick: Color of Lies (Book 2 in the Generation of Secrets Series, Founding Stones (Book 3 in the Generation of Secrets Series), Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply, Tattle Tales: Essays and Stories Along the Way.
Her most recent publication is Bubbie’s Magical Hair, a children’s illustrated book.
A former bookstore owner, CEO of a manufacturing firm, and restaurant, she presently resides with her husband on twenty acres in Skagit Valley, Washington.
You can find more at her website: www.abberolnick.com.
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