I have never met an excellent writer who was shy. Most writers are incredibly intelligent and articulate individuals.
My last year in college at UW-Milwaukee, I entered the world of senior seminar. Most of the poor children in my class had one goal-to make our outrageously angry and terrible professor happy.
Rounding out the final year of Journalism school was exciting for all of us senior children. We had seen one another though four years of Journalism school and we were all ready to be finished and enter the world of adulthood.
At the ripe old age of 21-years-old we were adults after all. We had laughed, cried, and partied together. We were all excited to have the title of “senior seminar” included on our final schedules.
As we entered the big beautiful room reserved for namely Graduate students, the Dean, and teacher’s conferences, we felt relieved.
I recall looking out the small window at a beautiful birch with a small bird’s nest atop, as the sun beamed in to a grand new beginning. The light that we saw as the end of our Undergraduate writing careers.
When our professor came in, we looked at one another with smiles upon our excited young faces. He had to know that at this point in our college careers we were professional writers. There wasn’t anything else to learn of course. We were only here to reiterate how intelligent we were, and how the past four years we had learned everything we needed to know to make it in the real world.
Then the professor spoke. “Most of you probably think this will be an easy slacker class,” he said. “You hope to show off all of the knowledge you’ve learned and easy, right?”
“Not so fast,” said the disheveled-looking man. “In my class you will learn that I have the power to pass you or not.”
We were speechless. All of these wide-eyed freshman faces that I had remembered in freshman seminar began to appear once again, after what seemed like an entire decade.
One of my fellow classmates grinned, he knew everything, and would pass with flying colors in his mind. One of the girls cried, and I well, I looked at the tree and it suddenly seemed like the birch would fall to the ground if the teacher saw it fit.
I was a nervous wreck. I left the lecture that was our first class seemingly happy listening to my fellow classmates talk through what had just happened with each other.
“C’mon it can’t be that bad, he’s just a jerk,” said my hippy friend with a frog in his throat. “I’m going to fail!,” said the one girl I somehow could not stand the entirety of my education. “Just chill,” said my rational friend. I heard all of these different, but equally somewhat loveable personalities as I just felt frozen in this red brick building for all of time.
How was I to please this professor? What did next week have to offer my schedule? I decided I would be his best student. I would raise my hand for every question he asked, and be silent when he spoke. I would be a superstar in this class no matter what it took.
The following Monday, as senior seminar suggests, we turned in our first research papers with great excitement. We were all trained and educated writers, at least in our minds.
I raised my hand and sat quietly when he spoke just as I told myself I would. It seemed as if I was annoying this handsomely devilish jerk. What is a girl to do to please him?
The following week I decided I would do whatever it took and maybe be a little less eager to raise my hand.
What I learned from this man has stayed with me for the entirety of my life as a writer…..