Monday, January 27, 2014

Mrs. Durham

Why do you write?

I've been asked this many times over the course of my life and I've never had a great answer. The more I think about it, though, the more I remember third grade.

I loved my third grade teacher. Her name was Belle Durham, which sounds a lot like Durham Bull. She was challenging and engaging. She seemed happy to be at school each day.

The most vivid memory of third grade, though, isn't necessarily a happy one.

I was in the "slow reading group."

You see, there was a fast reading group and a really, really slow reading group. Until this point, I had believed I fell right in line with the students in my class who were exceptionally bright. I thumped them all in our multiplication races on the blackboard on almost a daily basis, usually being rewarded with a sucker or another piece of candy.

Mrs. Durham, though, decided  I wasn't a strong enough reader to join the elite in the class in their precious circle that gathered near the exit door to the classroom. Yes, I can still see it. Instead, I met with the slower bunch in another part of the room. There, we'd sit and look at each other, daring one another to read a page.

Elementary, and I guess some high school, teachers can relate. They've seen time and time again the kids who sit in class and duck their heads, hoping they can keep from being called upon to read aloud.

I wasn't that kid, though.

I loved reading aloud.

I just didn't realize I wasn't any good at it.

Luckily, Mrs. Belle Durham knew it.

"You sit over here, son." I still remember it. I was actually demoted - in the middle of a reading session. I made the walk of shame over to the "we have better things to do than read a silly book" group and took my place.

I can remember Mrs. Durham complimenting me on how I kept my place in the big red reading book. My fingers would turn pale from pressing underneath each word so hard.

The book was called "Never Give Up."

So, I didn't.

I'm now what I would consider a strong reader. I love to read. Can't read enough.

I tell you all this to say that I believe I love writing because I love reading.

All thanks to Mrs. Durham.

Your turn: If you're a writer and you've found your way here ... let me know why you write.

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