Okay, I freely admit I hardly excelled in English Literature. However, I found this particular high school English class very insightful. Clearly, I was learning a good deal about literature whether or not it was reflected in my assignments. No matter. Because of my less than stellar grades my high school counselors decided to move me to another English class. Apparently, a class that wasn’t as challenging as English Lit. Even with the best of intentions, it appears my high school counselors hardly did me a favor. By transferring me to a class that was, shall we say, less challenging, my writing career could have been permanently stalled by a poor decision. In spite of this setback I continued to write while in high school and enjoyed telling stories, if only to my fellow classmates. You can’t stop a writer from writing. It’s what writers do. It’s what they have to do.
Bill Tuning sat next to me in high school English Lit and he and I shared a love of reading and storytelling. Bill was blessed with natural talent and one day dreamed of becoming a novelist. He had a sharp wit and even dabbled in music on occasion. Bill played a mean cornet in the high school band and music was another love we both shared. While I often struggled with writing, it came easily to Bill and he was able to quickly knock out a number of papers. Because Tuning was so prolific, he even wrote for the school newspaper that was published weekly. Because we often batted ideas back and forth, we were able to convince our English Literature teacher to allow us to collaborate on a story. Luckily, she eventually agreed to let us work as a team, although we were given the feeling that somehow we were breaking the rules.
What I find especially ironic is the future careers of my fellow classmates. They were far more talented than myself when it came to writing and continually received higher grades. I’ll admit I often felt like a dunce compared to my more literate pals, but I simply never gave up on the dream of storytelling. One would assumed they had gone on to careers in journalism or some other form of writing. Heck, they could have written copy for an advertising agency or sought an editing career in a publishing house. Sadly, no one, with the exception of myself, ever dared become a writer even though most were far more talented. On a sad note, my old collaborator, Bill Tuning never achieved his goal of becoming a famous novelist. Distraught by his lack of success as a writer, he simply drowned his sorrows in booze. I learned of his untimely passing on one of my many trips to my home town of Santa Barbara.
As I said earlier, you can’t stop a writer from writing. It’s what we do. Since my high school days I’ve done my fair share of writing that has included books, films and television shows. None of it was great, mind you, but I continued to learn and move forward. I began with a yellow legal pad, migrated to an old Smith Corona, and now use an Apple laptop. Much like my Santa Barbara High School days, I’m still learning to write. Maybe if I keep it up long enough, I might learn a thing or two. At least I hope my old high school English Lit teacher might think so.