Monday, June 7, 2010

Mr. Martin



If I said, “I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was born,” it would be a lie.

I actually wanted to be several things while growing up and being a writer wasn’t any of them until I was fourteen. I wanted to be a firefighter, an artist, a doctor, a lawyer, or all four at once. Dreams and aspirations moved and changed just as much as pebbles on a beach. Four years ago, however, that’s when I decided to be a writer. There were several reasons why I wanted to pick up the pen instead of a scalpel,a fire hose, a paintbrush, or a suitcase. One of them was because of my English teacher.

What he shared with me was not only knowledge, but also the power of the written word. He showed me how writers changed society, how they carved ideas into minds, led revolutions, and created worlds of the greatest kind.

This teacher’s name is Paul Martin.

Mr. Martin didn’t exactly give me a free A on any test. On the contrary, he gave me a D- on my very first test on a book titled The Catalyst. I actually hated that book so much that I decided to write something I thought would be better than some eighteen-year old girl and her stupid life problems. I thought I would write an epic adventure about something I was interested in and not about some girl and her desire to get into MIT. I wrote the first chapter and handed it to Mr. Martin, who said that it was “interesting,” while also marking it with a black sharpie that bled through the paper. The paper had more marks on it than Freddy Krueger’s face. I was devastated to think that something with so many mistakes could even be considered “interesting.” So, I went back to my desk, sat quietly, and thought.

What the hell am I doing wrong?” I started to bash on myself. “I’m never going to pass this class in a million years.” May I remind you readers that I was in ninth grade at the time, “I won’t be able to go to college if I write like this.”

So, I did not only do my studies, but tried writing a crappy novel. By the end of the year, I had known the reasons for my awkward sentences, wrong antecedents, and not to use the word “you.” I read all of Mr. Martin’s carefully placed comments, his notes in the margins, and his overall thoughts at the end of my essays. I wrote my first novel on the side and handed out chapters to my friends, who apparently enjoyed my terrible writing back then.

I finished my story after rewriting the first ten chapters twelve times and under fifteen working titles. I gave the piece to Mr. Martin over that year’s summer break and had it returned to me with a grim face in the fall. He told me that it was an okay story, but had many grammar mistakes. I had a lot of work ahead of me to become a writer and Mr. Martin was there to be my guide.

My first novel was crap. I still have it though with all its beautiful errors and some marks from Mr. Martin’s infamous black sharpie. One-hundred and forty-five pages of amateur writing now sat in my drawer as a memory and a reminder. I promised myself that I would write and continue to write until I was published. I don’t know what I was thinking when I first said the words, “I want to be a writer, ” but I knew it was the career choice for me ever since I said it.

So, Mr. Martin ended up teaching us, students, of the classics in literature and the modern marvels in the writing world. He showed us the power of poetry and the awesomeness of prose. He continued to teach us until the bell rang, while going on hilarious tangents about homeless people named Bosephus, working at Trader Joes, and a million other wonderful adventures that related to the things we were learning in class. He stayed up late grading papers for us. He read and re-read every one of his comments sacrificing sleep in the process.

So, now you, dear reader, are probably wondering why I write about Mr. Martin today of all days?

It is because my school, AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian, is firing him from the school staff after many years of teaching there. I do not know the reason why, but I can vouch only for Mr. Martin’s greatness for being a teacher. He’s the example of a perfect teacher and what every teacher should strive to be. I’m going to Irvine soon and I will look for someone just like Mr. Martin to help me with my writing and create that same atmosphere that made me love the world of literature. I probably won’t have any luck in Irvine, because Mr. Martin was a one of a kind teacher, but I’ll still be on the lookout.

My brother or cousins, who go to the same school, won’t be able to have those same experiences with Mr. Martin like I did. I feel bad for them, because they won’t learn the same values, hear the same stories, laugh with Mr. Martin, or learn to be more of a family than a class.

Mr. Martin was one of the best thing AGBU ever had to offer and now that they fired him, they had lost one of the few things that made school life enjoyable for a student.

Thank you, Mr. Martin, for those wonderful four years of English. So, I am not going to sit around and let this happen. Instead, I’ll write about it and dare to disturb the universe, like a writer should.


Have you, dear readers, had any teachers that were memorable in your life? (Professional or otherwise.) What did you learn from your teacher?

24 comments:

Carolyn V. said...

I love awesome teachers. They really make a difference. The teacher I think of isn't my own, but my daughter's. She went through a couple of hard years, but she had a teacher last year that really believed in her. It's made all the difference! =)

Sandy Shin said...

I'm sorry about what happened to him, but I'm glad he were there, influencing your experience and decision to become a writer. I don't have a single teacher who made me want to write, but I think, bit by bit, all my English teachers have instilled in me a love for writing. :)

Nicole MacDonald said...

I did have a teacher who taught me that I could write, wasn't till last year though that I realised I wanted to :)

Vatche said...

Hey, Carolyn, glad to hear from you. I love teachers, too, because they make such a difference in our lives and should be given more credit for influencing us. It truly does make a difference! :)

Vatche said...

Hey Sandy! I'm glad he was there to influence me too, because if he wasn't there, who knows what I would've become or turned out to be. It's cool that not just one English teacher had influenced you, but many of them over the years, and how the sum of all their work has made you the writer you are today. Thanks for the comment and write on, Sandy!

Vatche said...

Hello, Nicole! Thank you for following me btw, I really appreciate it. As for a teacher that has influenced you, I'm sure you'll find someone in your life that made that spark somehow grow. Maybe not even one teacher, but several teachers, like Sandy that made that spark of writing ignite. Write on!

Piedmont Writer said...

What a wonderful post. I'm sorry Mr. Martin won't be there for your brothers. It's too bad when school systems fire great teachers.

I had two teachers, Mr. Fortin and Ms. Greene in high school who made me want to write. It was bad writing but the desire to create has never left me.

You followed me, now I'm following you. Let's journey together.

Creepy Query Girl said...

What a great dedication to someone who inspired you! Yes, I had a great teacher as well. After every paper I handed in she would hand it back, look me up and down and shake her head. At the end of the year she took me aside and said 'Katie- you could do something extrodinary. Make sure you never 'settle'.' She told me my intelligence, personality and voice shined through my writing in a way I never allowed in person. And she wanted to see me succeed. I was really touched by that.

Jayne said...

Good teachers are so memorable. I didn’t have any that inspired me with my writing, exactly, but am very thankful for the teacher that supported my creativity.

Vatche said...

Hey, Piedmont Writer, glad to see you here! It completely sucks that the school fired Mr. Martin and right now people are actually writing petitions to keep Mr. Martin at school.

It's cool that you had two teachers who inspired you, I hope to find a second teacher or even a third that will inspire me just as much as Mr. Martin in Irvine.

Let's journey together! Write on!

Vatche said...

Thank you, Creepy Query Girl, for your wonderful words. Your teacher sounds awesome and it is cool that you kept writing. I've read your posts--they are extraordinary. Write on!

Vatche said...

Hey, Jayne, thank you for following me on my blog, I greatly appreciate it.

I'm sure you'll find not one teacher that inspired you, but many. It wasn't probably a teacher with a podium or a classroom, but it could be someone who taught you something about your writing like your mom or your sibling.

I believe that every person I've ever met has at least taught me something about myself and my writing, maybe it's the same case with you or any of the others.

I'm sure your teacher will be very happy to see how your creativity has manifested itself today. Write on, Jayne!

Falen said...

i didn't want to be a writer until i was about 17-18 or so.
i had plans to be a vet and changed my mind at the last moment

Vatche said...

Hey, Falen, that's cool. Follow your dreams, that's the important part.

Amber Lynae said...

Hello Vatche. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for you wonderful compliments. I am liking your blog as well.

Mr Martin sound like he has been a blessing in yours life. As for me I have had a series of wonderful teachers that have each influenced me in different ways.

Vatche said...

Hey, Amber! Thanks for the return feedback!

I am glad you're liking my blog. Mr. Martin was a really blessing in my life. It is cool that you've also been blessed with many teachers that have influenced you. Write on!

loonyhiker said...

I'm so glad that you had this inspirational teacher in your life and that you wrote about him!

I had a physically abusive 4th grade teacher who terrorized her students. She was engaged, married, and divorced during the one year that I had her (she was physically abused and wore her sunglasses a lot!). She was my inspiration because I swore that I would become a good teacher when I grew up and that my students would not be afraid of making a mistake. My students would enjoy the magic of learning and never have to worry about the terror of an error. She wasn't my best teacher but 40+ years later, she still is my most memorable.

Vatche said...

A different story from all the rest, loonyhiker. An abusive 4th grade teacher and NOT wanting to end up like her; you wanted to be the exact opposite of her. This is an interesting point of view.

Thank you for your kind words, also. I wrote about Mr. Martin because he's one of the reasons why I started writing, a true inspiration, so I thought it was about time to write about him.

Once again, thank you for everything.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Hello Vatche,

The Mr. Martins of the world are truly a gift from God and many of us have been helped and encouraged along the path life by such dedicated teachers. Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it.

Ron

BTW, Thanks for your recent comment on my blog. The next time you visit you're more than welcome to become a follower if you want to.

Vatche said...

Thank you, Ron, for your awesome words. Mr. Martin has truly been a blessing to my life and all those around him. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, I appreciate your time and energy in reading and commenting.

I'm also already a follower on your blog, you probably can't see me 'cause you have a lot, but I'm there. Thank you for the offer though! :)

Bluestocking said...

I am sorry to hear about your mentor, but like others, I think it's wonderful you were able to have someone seriously attend to your work and give you advice at such a formative age.

Also, thank you for the recent comments on my blog. I will have to lurk around on your site more often!

Amanda Sablan said...

What a moving post. :)

I actually did not want to be a writer until I was 14 either. None of my other career choices seemed interesting to me any more, and because I loved reading and had always been complimented on my writing abilities,I just fell into a desire to write professionally. Around this time I also wanted to act.

While I can't exactly say any of my English teachers influenced me throughout high school (they were all pretty awesome, though) my drama teacher for three years greatly motivated me to become an actor. I love her like a second mother! And without her, I would not be the person I am today.

Vatche said...

Hey, Bluestocking, thank you for comment!

Yeah, I'm glad and feel lucky that I got a chance to be taught by a person like Mr. Martin. I am extremely grateful to have learned so much in just four-five years on the craft and art of writing, but I still have more learning to go.

No problemo for the comments on your blog, they were so good that I just had to comment!

P.S. Become a follower anytime you can, Bluestocking, and write on!

Vatche said...

Hey, Amanda! I'm glad to see another comment by you. :)

It's cool to know that you wanted to be an actor and a writer. It's good to hear that not only did you have awesome English teachers, but also a drama teacher that was like a second mother to you.

Drama and writing can really go hand-in-hand at times, too. You can write things and act them out, as if you were the character in the story.

Thank you for your kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. Write on!

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