13 February 2012

My Writing Origins

Today is the Origins Blogfest. (Thank you for organizing this Alex, Katie, D.L. and Matthew!) It's also my birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Now for my writerly beginnings.

My ninth grade Honors English teacher was an evil little troll. Mr. Pringle was short and tubby and he wore the same cowboy boots every day. He disliked me because I was the boss’s daughter.

My father being the principal caused problems between my teachers and me more than once, but this was different. I always did well in English—until I enrolled in Mr. Pringle's class. Then all my assignments came back oozing with red ink. I couldn't write anything well. After months of incessant criticism I finally got up the courage to ask Mr. Pringle why he didn't like me, and you know what the evil little troll did? He told my father I had an issue with himAfter that, it was war. I spent hours every week on my English homework.

When our class was assigned to write a two-page descriptive essay, I wrote about a donut shop. I poured everything I'd learned into that paper, hoping Mr. Pringle would feel the urge to rush to Krispy Kreme when he was done reading it.

The week after I turned in my descriptive essay, I received my graded assignment back. The only red ink, tidy numbers on the upper right hand corner, said 100%. Where was the blood? I searched, but there were no red notes on either page. I was flabbergasted. I wrote something Mr. Pringle didn’t rip to shreds.

The odd part was, I didn't feel triumphant—I was disappointed. I'd grown accustom to Mr. Pringle's critiques. How would I become a better writer without them?

Since then, I can't say I've savored every critique I've received, but I do view them as a challenge to better my writing.

Thank you, Mr. Pringle, for being an evil little troll. You toughened me up for the writing world. I doubt I'd appreciate critiques as much as I do today if it weren't for you.

76 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Now THAT is a very cool story! It's probably a good thing to get an idea of how harsh criticism can be when it comes to rejections - though I am almost certain you couldn't have deserved the toughness he inflicted on you! :D

Miranda Hardy said...

Even trolls aren't all that bad. Lol

Cristina said...

what a troll. But it seems like in a way he gave you a gift, one that could've been wrapped in nicer paper instead of newspaper or something equally as messy . :)

Rusty Trombone said...

Happy birthday Emily and congratulations on learning not to feed trolls at such a young age! XXX

Tobi Summers said...

Learning how to accept criticism is such an important skill; it's good that you learned it so young (though I imagine it was hell when you were going through it).

Happy birthday!!!

Freya Morris said...

Great story. I had the same with my A Level RE teacher. Once I achieved a brilliant exam grade half way through (he didn't mark it) I sorta didn't have the drive anymore. I needed that criticism to keep pushing for better. I also lost alot of respect for him too though. : )

Kelley said...

Happy Birthday.

And love this story. I wasn't that great of a writer in high school, so I totally relate to all the red.

Difference is I didn't really care until right now :)

Good for you for stickin' it to him :)

K.S. Lewis said...

That's awesome! I love how you just rose to the challenge and collected a total win at the end of the class. And yeah, that troll pic is cute, haha. ^_^

Hope you have a great birthday!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Happy Birthday, Emily! Your post was sort of a gift to yourself and to us in reminding all of us of the value of a good critique. :)

L.G.Smith said...

Ha! Now that's a writer. I dare you to mark my page with red ink!

Happy Birthday Emily! Have a wonderful day. :))

Stuart Nager said...

Happy Birthday!!

Trolls...why does it always have to be Trolls!!?? ;) thanks for sharing

E. Arroyo said...

Awesome!

M.J. Fifield said...

That's a great story. I loved reading it. I had a college professor who was a very tough grader like that. I miss him now.

Happy Birthday! Hope you have something fun planned for the day...

Rena said...

What is it with high school English trolls? I had one too.

Theresa said...

Happy Birthday! I had a couple English trolls lol. I hated them but now I realize there was motive to their awfulness. Great story.

Cassie Mae said...

Happy Birthday!!!

And is it wrong that your teacher's name makes me hungry? :)

English was actually my worse subject. (Don't tell anyone! haha :) )

Sarah Pearson said...

Happy Birthday Emily!

I guess we should be glad he taught you a valuable lesson, but teachers like that still make me mad.

i'm erin. said...

I love that you called your teacher, MR. Pringle, an evil little troll. I had a teacher just like him, and I think I called my teacher the troll king, but I started to love writing about the same time you did!

Leigh Covington said...

This is awesome! So true too! Those evil little troll's can come in handy sometimes!

Morgan said...

I love it. But also so cool that you were able to switch the situation and turn it into a good thing... I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't have the perspective and maturity to do that. Great story!

And yes, Happy Birthday! :D

Meika Usher said...

Fantastic story. We've all had those people (teachers, critique partners, etc.) that ripped our writing to shreds. And, even though it sucked at the time, we learned from it and became better writers. Thanks for sharing!

Brinda said...

First, happy birthday to you. Second, to be cliche, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I'm glad he didn't kill your enthusiasm for writing!

Angela Cothran said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! If I had a 5 lb bag of gummy bears I would put a bow on it and send it to you :)

Love the story!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Happy Birthday!!!
My Dr. Hart(less) looked a bit like your Mr. Pringle...only Dr. Hart only wore black...like a tubby, bald, Gothic troll

Jenny S. Morris said...

Happy Birthday!!

I LOVE that you had Mr. Pringle. I never did and I kinda wish someone had done that to me in high school.

Oh and Krispy Kreme. YUM!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The Mr. Pringles of life are the spur to grow into someone better ... and like when a migraine that leaves, we feel a bit lonesome without it or him! A great origin story. Roland

Margo Berendsen said...

I love the troll picture!! Oh am I so sorry to hear that you had such an evil English teacher though. I had wonderful teachers that encouraged me, but in retrospect, I probably could a benefited more from critiques instead of generic "this is lovely" comments! So kudos to you for appreciating Mr. Pringle in hindsight.

new follower - and my post is at how my writing dream began

mish said...

First things first - Happy Birthday Emily!
Seems like we could all do with an evil Mr. pringle to keep us on our "writing toes". LOL!
Nice to meet you!

Melissa Sarno said...

Happy Birthday Emily! I love, love this story. I also had a teacher who liked to destroy my writing and he made a better writer because I was so stubborn and determined.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

We usually learn more from those evil little trolls than we ever learn from the "everything is beautiful" princesses. Fun post. Nice to meetcha, and I'm happy to sign on as your newest follower.

Julie said...

What a great story! I cracked up at the evil little troll LOL. And, Happy, Happy Birthday to you!!! I hope it's a great one. :)

Cortney Pearson said...

Lol, loved this story! I agree, I do enjoy getting critiques because then I know what else I can do to improve. But it's also nice to know after the hard work that you've done something right, too. :)
And Happy Birthday!!! *tosses confetti*

Jess said...

Happy birthday!! And, what a cool story!! I used to have a teacher who didn't like anything I wrote and in the end I think it made me a better writer.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Thanks for sharing :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Yea for all the Mr. Pringles in our lives!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Happy Birthday!!! :D :D :D And thank you for sharing. I love hearing how everyone got the writing spark. We are all so different! :) I want some Pringle's now...

Karen Peterson said...

I love this story. I remember getting so frustrated in school when teachers would just give me an A and possibly some quick comment like "Great job!" How was that supposed to teach me anything?

J.L. Campbell said...

Sometimes it's being told that you can't that makes all the difference. Of course, this only works if you already know you're good at something. The picture of the troll made me chuckle.

RachelMaryBean said...

Thanks for sharing this, what a wonderful story!
Oh, and Happy Birthday! I hope it's great!

Nicole Settle said...

Happy Birthday! I remember in college I had a teacher who gave me back a paper covered in red ink and didn't even put a grade on it because it was that bad. I ended up getting an A in the class and I think one of her favorite students. Sometimes harsh teachers are fantastic!

Emily R. King said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone!

It's been fun to read the origins of your writing careers as well. :D

Jay Noel said...

The troll had a purpose.

I have to FORCE my fellow writer friends to pour the red ink. They're afraid of hurting my feelings, and I tell them that NOT telling me what's wrong with my work is actually hurting me.

You're exactly right - how else do we hope to get better?

Laura said...

Great story! Amazing how our childhood / teen advesaries can have more impact on our adult life than our friends
Lx

Peggy Eddleman said...

Hahaha! Maybe we DID have the same teacher! :) Only mine didn't have constructive criticism. I think she just took it upon herself to make us all think we just sucked way too bad to be in her glorious presence. I'm glad your evil little troll helped you out. :D

And I was born on the 14th! So we are almost birthday buddies! (Although I don't actually celebrate mine on Valentines Day, because hello! It's Valentines Day!)

Ashley Nixon said...

Okay. Mr. Pringle? hahahaha. I would never take him seriously. Never. But it's great that he taught you to like critiques. I've never learned that skill.

Maggie said...

Fun story Emily. And that darn Mr. Pringle!!!

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness--this is an EXCELLENT origin story!! Lovely twist at the end, Emily, and a great perspective :)

Carrie Butler said...

Great story, Empress King! Happy Birthday! :D

Clarissa Draper said...

I never thought that would be the reaction. Amazing that the person who you hated made you a better person. Well done!

Sarah Ahiers said...

That is awesome! And it never occured to me that teachers might not like the kids of their bosses. Guess i'm just naive.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Laura Pauling said...

I love when teachers try and make their students better writers even if the students get frustrated! Great story.

Caitlin said...

Ha! How funny that an "evil little troll" could really light that fire for the want and need for critiques.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The man sounds like a troll. How evil!
Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

Alleged Author said...

Oh my goodness. Mr. Pringle does sound like an evil little troll! So glad you escaped. :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Gina said...

Happy Birthday Emily!

I had a professor like that in college. I hated getting papers back from her, because she ripped everything to shreds. But I remember her above everyone else because she really helped me become a better writer. Great story!

Christine Rains said...

Happy birthday! Ha! Great story. I think all writers need that little troll to toughen them up. Critiques do make us better writers.

Jasmine Walt said...

Sounds like you had a challenging professor! That's awesome! Was his name really Mr. Pringle? LOL.

Oh, and Happy Birthday! :D

Kristin Rae said...

evil little troll! hahaha love it! Sounds like he helped you grow a thick skin :)

Leslie Rose said...

HATE the red pen. It should be banned. Criticism is so much easier to take in purple or a nice teal. Great story. I had an evil Sophomore Honors English teacher. We used to write inappropriate poetry about her and her thinning hair.

tfwalsh said...

What an awesome story... in a round about way, he made you perfect your assignments....

Melissa Sugar said...

Happy Birthday. I had a few trolls in high school as well. You were able to rise above and win. You are a star. Congratulations on your win for the "I'm hearing voices" blogfest.

Lan said...

It's so great that you've got such a zen attitude to criticism. I must admit I'm not quite there yet! Maybe Mr Pringle was trying to help all along?

PS. Happy Birthday!!

Matthew MacNish said...

Happy belated Birthday, Emily!

Amy said...

Great Origins story, it's truly inspiring - thank you for sharing! :)

DL Hammons said...

THAT is the type of ORIGIN story I envisioned reading when I came up with this loopy blogfest. Very well done! All the best books have wonderful conflict, and who better to battle with than a troll!

Thank you!

Deana said...

Dang it Emily, I missedyour birthday! I hope you had a great day:)
I loved your story! It sounds like Mr. Pringle turned out to be a cool troll after all:)

Cherie Reich said...

I hope you had a great birthday! Your blog is lovely. I'm a new follower. :)

That is a great origins story. I guess we all need a Mr. Pringle every once in a while.

Claire Hennessy said...

Very funny Troll story. Isn't it funny how the worst teachers sometimes turn out to be the best? Happy Birthday (for yesterday) - hope you had a great day :)

nutschell said...

Mr. Pringle certainly helped you raise your standards of writing, whether he meant to or not :)
Great to meet you through this blogfest!

your newest follower,
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Botanist said...

Inspired by a troll! That's neat. And happy birthday for yesterday - you're the second one I've met on this blogfest who's birthday it was.

Trisha said...

I love how you were getting critique experience even back then! Great story!

LTM said...

LOL! Very cool that you were able to find something good in what had to have been a stressful situation. I had a teacher like that (decided *I* had a problem with *him* when I finally worked up the nerve to talk). But he was in MS science. :D

Hubs was the principal's kid, but he had the 180-degrees-different experience. Of course, it was a small school. <3

Emily R. King said...

Thank you for your comments! I learned a lot from Mr. Pringle, even if he was an evil little troll. : )

Sophia Chang said...

Happy birthday Emily! I love that you also hold a grudge for the evil trolls in our lives - I still seethe at my horrid teachers.

Sarah Rittel said...

Mr. P really is an evil little troll.

Scarlett said...

You didn't by chance... no, you would never have... seriously, you never mentioned the word (*whispers* troll) in his presence... did ya?

*g* I guess the world needs trolls after all!

I'm glad I made it round to your place, Emily! I've loved your comments on all of the Origins!

SO looking forward to more of you!

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