To jump start this year off on a hopeful whim, I decided to take an online writing course. This way, I don’t have to actually leave the house (since I’ve become a major hermit) but maybe with the classroom format and having to turn in assignments I will start writing again. I allowed my inner critic (the bitch) to talk me out of writing for the last half of 2013. I’ve been following the Gotham newsletters via email for awhile. They have great information for writer wanna-be’s. If I lived in New York City, I would actually go take some of their classes, but since that is not an option I thought the online version would be a good way for me to get some professional criticism and help. A kind of Christmas present to myself. And as such, I am going to share some of my writing assignments on my blog. Feel free to criticize as feedback can be constructive.
I’m having a hard time concentrating right now because, of course, when I sit down at the computer to write that is when others in the household decide it would be a good time to sit down near me and converse. Go figure.
I turned in our 1st writing assignment today. The assignments are supposed to be kept under 750 words which is about 3 pages typed, double-spaced. And is very hard for me because once I get going, I have a lot to write about. Revise and edit are the challenges I struggle with to keep the assignment under the limit. The 1st assignment was to start with this title: The Window. Then write something, anything, to go along with it. The subject matter immediately popped into my head; therefore, this one is not Fiction, but ‘Memoir’. Please enjoy, and laugh at your heart’s content.
I was 23 years old before I realized that I was pronouncing the word ‘window’ incorrect. In my defense, I have always had difficulty with vocal speech as I am tone deaf to my own voice. I had to take Speech classes in Elementary School because of my inability to pronounce quite a few letters of the alphabet. I can remember saying, “Free and three sound so much alike,” but what everyone heard me saying was, “Free and free…” I had severe troubles with the ‘th’s, ‘sh’s and ‘r’s. The speech classes corrected my pronunciation issues but I think my hillbilly accent made the teacher’s job a challenging one. After a session with me, I imagine her beating her head against her desk and pulling her hair in frustration. My tone deafness muddled the waters.
I can remember belting out gospel hymns with the heartfelt enthusiasm only a child can display at the small country Baptist church I attended every Sunday as a child. I loved Jesus and wanted to glorify him. When people turned to stare at me, I just thought they were thinking, “That little girl really has the spirit in her!” Some time later, (after a few complaints, I’m sure) a Sunday School teacher informed me it would be a better idea to sing a little quieter so that God could hear everyone else singing too. I overheard a mean little boy in the class whisper to his buddy, “And so we don’t have to hear her awful yowlin’!” It hurt my feelings, but I didn’t let that bother me too much at the time.
The real heartbreak happened when the Music Teacher at the elementary school I attended picked every single person in our class to be in the ‘Choir‘ except for me and three little boys who would rather cause trouble than sing. It would not have been so traumatic if she would have just taken me aside and whispered to me the truth. I would have been okay with that. But no, she had to make an obvious and ugly point in front of all of my friends. What she did was have the entire music class of about 50-60 kids sing songs. During the songs, she would pull a child aside that she deemed worthy to sing in her ‘Choir‘. After singing five songs, there were only a few children left. All three of us girls were looking like love starved orphans we were trying so hard. We wanted to be in the ‘Choir‘ with all of our other girlfriends. Throughout the whole ordeal the Music Teacher kept complaining, “I just can’t hear everyone properly,” while eyeballing me with a strange look. I caught on. I shut up and stopped singing in the middle of a song. At the end of it the teacher exclaimed, “Great! I could finally hear everyone,” as she told some more children to join the rest of the ‘Choir‘ group. My friend Julie gave me a look of commiseration as she left me. The teacher tortured us all with one more song so she could hand pick some more boys and then she simply disregarded the rest of us with a look of disgust before she began gushing with enthusiasm to all of her future ‘Choir‘ students about how much fun they were going to have.
That story is one of the main reasons why I refuse to sing accappella in church or any groups to this day. Even when I just sing along for fun with the car radio my own children end up begging me to stop. It’s not pretty. But, I thought I was speaking concise.
That is, until one day when my young husband informed me otherwise. We were having one of those domestic disagreements common to young married couples stressed by working full-time jobs and taking care of two toddlers and a home. He was complaining about the fact that there were no clean glasses to get a drink of water out of while pointing out that I needed to do the dishes. In turn, I was complaining that I might have done the dishes if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to go around all the rooms of the house picking up his dirty socks he kept leaving everywhere. As a couple our chores were pretty much divided up by him being in charge of the outdoor things such as mowing and I did all the indoor cleaning. I was griping about how much more work this entailed for me and said something to the effect of, “Just look out the window, that’s all you have to do! Heck, I even need to wash the curtains on that window!” After all my griping, the grudge he had evidently been holding on to for awhile came bursting forth. He stormed over to the window and pointed at it while saying with charged vehemence, “Damn it Deana! It’s a ‘WINDOW‘ not a ‘windell’! Window, window, window! Can you say that? Geez.”
I stood in stunned silence. I was totally shocked. I had no idea I head been saying ‘windell’. After a moment, in a quiet voice, I said, “window.” He laughed and said, “Thank you!”
I was left to ponder about it inside my head. It really is such a simple word with no excuse for pronouncing it wrong. Why on earth had I been calling it a ‘windell’ all my life? Where did that come from? And was I destroying other innocent words unaware?
Still, to this day, I have to focus on the word to say it correct or will slide right back into my old habits. Just a few months ago I was saying something to my oldest son about shutting the blinds on the window. He looked at me and with a deadpan voice said, “Really Mom? Windell? Really? It’s a window.” He put a strong emphasis on the end of the word. It’s been over a decade since his Daddy died but I could hear him plain as day inside my head saying, “Damn it Deana! It’s a WINDOW!”