Sunday, January 06, 2008
An Award!
The assignment was simple. My fourth-grade classmates and I studied poetry and were instructed to create a book of poems, scrawled in chunky child’s printing between the thick, blue lines of wide-ruled paper, sandwiched between covers of mishapingly cut cardboard.

At the end of the assignment, we knew they’d be entered into the school district’s Young Author’s Competition. I was a smart kid, but school wasn’t easy for me. I had two strikes against me: an undiagnosed learning disability (central auditory processing disorder) and a boatload of emotional baggage. I could spell, but never got through the first couple rounds of the spelling bee because anxiety would kick in. And, by fourth grade, I’d been pulled out of advanced reading and placed in the “slow” group. My teacher didn’t understand that I wasn’t struggling with reading, but that sitting at the kidney-shaped table in the corner of a noisy classroom, trying to process her instructions, made my head swim. So by fourth grade, I had no idea I was still the smart little kid who’d been pulled out of kindergarten to attend second grade reading; I was just the kid who needed “extra help,” was “bright but didn’t apply herself,” and was “easily distracted.”

But I liked writing poetry and loved illustrating, neither of which required my ears to work, so I poured my heart into my little book of poems, adding it to the stack of books being sent to the district judges for the competition.

And, entirely to my disbelief, I was chosen to represent my school at the Young Author’s Conference.

That disbelief followed me the entire day of the conference – in each workshop; each poetry reading; each meeting with a real author – I quite expected to be, at any moment, tapped upon the shoulder and asked to leave “I’m sorry, but we made a mistake . . . you aren’t supposed to be here . . ." Still, that little cardboard bound book of poems was the beginning of my love for writing and, from that moment on, I wrote, filling spiral ringed notebooks with my thoughts and feelings; with stories and poetry, dark musings and kept secrets all through childhood, teenhood and beyond.

There’s a point to this story. Charlie has awarded me A Roar for Powerful Words—an award based on writing merit. He’s given me the honor with Kim Ayres from Ramblings of the Bearded One. There is still a part of me who reacts like the fourth grader I once was . . . surely a mistake must have been made to group me with two men who I consider fabulous, funny, insightful, through-provoking writers!

As part of the award, I have to list three things that I believe make writing good and powerful.

  1. Do not leave yourself out of your writing; even if you are writing fiction, a research paper or a letter to the editor. Drawing from your own emotions and experiences, even if your reader isn’t aware that’s what you are doing, gives your words authenticity.
  2. Don’t be afraid to expose yourself; your fears, your weaknesses, your humanness. Doing so connects you with your readers in a real and powerful way.
  3. Don’t talk down to your readers. Writing shouldn’t include endless digressions to explain your topic like you are teaching a 101 class. Assume your readers are intelligent people because they likely are.

And now it is my duty to pass along the award to another deserving writer. Elizabeth ** is an adoptee friend of mine. She’s a mathematician by trade, but writing seems to come naturally to her too. The girl can definitely use both sides of her brain! What I LOVE about her writing is its brutal honesty. She isn’t afraid to add a well, placed f-bomb where it belongs; to say something controversial or to expose her raw emotion. Her blog, Champagne and Tears, is a brave journey of a woman reclaiming her identity. When you read it, it’ll make you angry, make you laugh, make you cry and make you shout “You go girl!” You won’t walk away untouched.

**I discovered as I was writing this, Elizabeth's blog is currently on vacation, but that doesn't change the fact she deserves her award :)

Rhonda Ruminated at 8:22 PM | Permalink |

8 Ruminations:

  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger Andie D.

    Congratulations Rhonda!!!!!!

    I told Elizabeth of her award through AAAFC. She deserves it. Hope she comes back SOON!

  • At 10:55 PM, Blogger Gershom


    ( thats for both of you! )

  • At 1:48 AM, Blogger elizabeth

    I can't tell you how stunned I am and how much this means to me. Especially tonight when earlier I was crying a boatload of tears.

    Thank you. I love you.

  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger Charlie

    This essay is a perfect example of why you won the award.

    And I wonder: Do you still have all of those spiral notebooks from The Early Years? They must be a treasure trove . . .

  • At 11:28 AM, Blogger Kim Ayres

    I'm the one being honoured by being included with you. Your writing is incredibly powerful - I just wish you wrote more often :)

    However, I'll overlook the fact that you misspelt my name...

  • At 11:03 PM, Blogger Rhonda

    Andie: Thank you! And thanks for passing on the word to the fabulous Miss Elizabeth.

    gershom: And thank you, too :)

    Elizabeth: You deserve it. You underestimate the power of your words and are doing an amazing thing on your blog, worthy of more than an internet award . . .

    Charlie: :::blush::: And, yes, I still have most of my writing from back then. Reading them is bittersweet. It's amazing what I understood as a kid, even though I didn't consciously understand it, if that makes any sense.

    Kim: I'll fix my dyslexic moment. Sorry!! I guess we're even. We're both honored, though I'll continue to argue I am the one in good company :)

  • At 8:03 AM, Blogger Jennifer McKenzie

    I find your words tremendously powerful.
    And I love your three things. Especially "Don't leave yourself out of your writing."
    So true.

  • At 7:41 AM, Anonymous mia

    Awarded to the perfect people on all counts.



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