Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Little Boy

“This is a complete and total failure. Very little of it is coherent. It simply makes no sense. How could you type this up in this condition? How could this go through drafts and still come out like this? See me. We need to talk.”

I looked at the paper a little bit stunned. I found the paper in a folder, which was conveniently placed in the dark abyss that was my file cabinet. The folder had my name on it and a date, the year 2007. That was nearly three years ago.

I rummaged through more of the folder. It was littered with every grade in the spectrum, except for an “F”. As I flipped through the pages from the tests of school years past, I realized how much I’ve changed little by little. This change took over thousands of paragraphs, millions of sentences, and billions of words.

I read the comments and realized that it was because of my experiences in my English class that I had grown to learn my mistakes by having them pointed out to me.

“I should not have to guess about what you are trying to say. Your writing is not clear. Did you proofread before turning in your paper?” The very first test of the year in 2007 on a book titled The Catalyst.

The next exam I took in the class, “Your problem here is your sentences need to end with periods and begin with capital letters. Otherwise, they are grammatically incorrect run-on sentences. I did like the story though.”

My eyes grew wide as I stared at this paper on my growth as a person. I saw the story was there in the essay, but it couldn’t be conveyed if it wasn’t coherent. The story was important to me, even when I was in ninth grade, but I didn’t have the grammatical tools to tell the story. I still had a long way to go and to learn.

“You need to analyze rather than summarize. Also, leave time to proofread to catch grammar errors.” I was doing better with every paper, but still my grades were pretty low. I remembered reading and researching, writing and studying, day and night for these exams. Though the sweat has disappeared along with the fear of failing a class, the memories remain.

My first “A” in the class didn’t appear until three months of taking the course. The comment my teacher wrote, “Very well-written—organized, focused, and often poetic. Good work.” The very first time my writing had actually made a jump of improvement.

I continued to flip through the pages, seeing the rollercoaster of grades reach highs and lows. Comments painted the page with ink from every color, while my writing still remained under the confined black ink. And I realized the mistakes I made in ninth grade, were fixed in tenth grade, and improved in eleventh grade.

Now, in twelfth grade, I’m trying to master these tools to my advantage. This “mastering” will take years to learn, but I’m ready to endure the long, painstaking hours that it will take. I am prepared to take the next step forward by reading all the masters of the art, by writing everyday, by living life, and by listening to the world around me.

I put the papers back into the folder and closed it. The grades forever imprinted in my mind, the ink dried for three years already, and the lessons learned from every comment that my English teacher wrote out on every paper.

The ninth grade boy, who wanted to tell stories, is still here.

He is now just a young man.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you made another grammatical mistake here: "How could this go through drafts and still come out this?" Looks like you still need work, Vatche!


Vatche said...

Thanks, Rafi. Must've missed that one, but I fixed it now. I know I still have work to do!

Paul L. Martin said...

I am so proud of you, Vatche. I can only take credit for the harsh-sounding comments on your paper. You took my notes, applied yourself, worked so hard, and became a writer. Your work this year is a monument to your efforts. I look forward to every assignment you write.

Keep up the good work. Your single-minded commitment to excellence means that it is only a matter of time before we see your books on the store shelves. You are an inspiration for other students at our school who wish to be writers, guardians of the word, the storytellers.

Although I cannot take credit for your hard work and talent, it will be a great pleasure to tell people in the future that one of the highlights of my teaching career was that I taught Vatche Yousefian, the writer.

Vatche said...

I'm glad I can make you proud, Mr. Martin. I'm happy that you look forward to every one of my papers. You know that I'll always apply myself and keep up my work. I hope one day to see my books on the shelves one day, as well. I am glad I can be an inspiration to some students, though I never considered myself as the role model type before Jeremy.

You can take credit for making me the writer I am today, you are one of the reasons that I am a writer. Thank you, Mr. Martin, it was and still is a pleasure being taught by you.

loonyhiker said...

What a great story! It is good to reflect on our own personal growth. I'm glad you are still growing which should be a life long process!

Vatche said...

Thank you so much for your comment! I continuously reflect on my growth on the blog as a writer, an adult, a student, and an intellectual. Learning and growing are parts of life and they are embedded in life everyday.

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