I have always loved writing. English has always been my favorite subject. My favorite teachers were almost always my English teachers ( minus one in High School). Then came college. My 2nd English professor had a serious addiction to her red pen. She would mark through sometimes I think just to mark through and the notes down the margins of our papers were sometimes longer than the body of work she was editing. One day as I sat staring at a paper that was no longer black and white but riddled with red I just couldn’t take it anymore and scheduled to meet with her. She was very matter of fact as we started talking and began to explain that the red marks are needed. A good writer is cultivated and the red marks are the places where the weeds need to be pulled. I remember thinking I have some weeds for you to pull but, I listened. After a long talk and the assignment to take what we had discussed and apply it I went back to work on my paper. Turning it in the next class I was pretty sure she had her red pen in hand as she took it out of her inbox. About a week later she stood in front of the class and started this speech on the cultivation of a good writer. That she had few in her class she would classify as such in her 30 some years of being a college professor. She went on to say that when a paper speaks to her heart and she is moved it is one she submits on to anyone that will appreciate it. With that she asked me to stand and the very paper she butchered had been adorned with a gold star and a A+! She asked that I read my paper aloud to the class and that I give permission to allow her to submit my writing to various publications that she had listed on the release form. Did I still get papers back with red marks, yes. I hated red pens every class every professor however, my perspective had changed. She had pushed my buttons so many times. There were days I didn’t even want to write. I didn’t see what the point was and I was losing faith I could do it and do it well. Had I given up and quit and dropped her class I wouldn’t have grown as a writer and I dare say as a person. The rest of the class was amazing. She would still mark the crap out of my paper but, she would also challenge me in her notes and encourage me. She even invited me to share her journal and from there I got to see a glimpse into a woman very much like me. She was still matter of fact and rough and gruff but, she was teaching me.
I share that story today because I realized something this past few days. Some days my life feels so flooded with red marks. Some days I feel as though everything I do is full of mistakes. Some days I feel like the story I am writing is all wrong, will not make sense or have a point. Some days the “teachers” in my life have their red pen ready to riddle me full of red ink. Some days I forget that the red marks are necessary. The teachers in my life, good, bad or otherwise are all there for a purpose. They all have a part in my story. In cultivating me to be the best me I can be. Through trial, error, joy, laughter, sorrow, pain, purging and stretching. They perfect in me and challenge me and bring me to a place where I am fully me.
Today I am writing in red ink. I haven’t used a red pen in ages but this morning as I penned in my private journal it was in red. A reminder that in all I do I am able and I will succeed.