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The Wicked Witch Of Creative Writing
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|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
Halloween In Vietnam (Short Stories) Non-fiction/fiction. [1,649 words]
The Wicked Witch Of Creative Writing
No one really knew her first name. We just called her Miss Matika, my creative writing teacher in high school. She was a short, pudgy woman in her late thirties who always came to class in a large mustard-colored sweater, chalked-covered black pants and purple high-top sneakers. Everything about her clashed including her bleached-blond roots and thin black mustache. Think Fred Flinstone with a bad dye job and you’ll get the idea.
It was a fairly small class consisting of no more than nine students who would form a circle at the end of each week and salivate at the thought of tearing each other’s stories apart.
They were like ravenous wolves and she was their leader. I was more like the ugly duckling. I never really fit in with this bloodthirsty bunch. More reason to tear every one of my works to pieces.
I think that was what Miss Matika enjoyed. To her, everything I wrote was disjoined, cliché or all together boring. I found this pretty funny coming from a person who dreamed of writing a novel about the secret lives of Catholic Nuns living in a religious commune. Their hopes, their fears, their daily trips to the altar to pray. What a concept.
Ms. Matika, to put it in simple terms, was an oddity. Everything she did and said seemed to teeter on the line between reality and a total psychopathic state. One of her first recommendations to us in class was that we faithfully take up the ritual of eating scones and drinking earl grey tea every morning for breakfast. She said a writing mind without a little English culture in it, was no mind at all. That was fine with me though. She could drink tea and eat her nasty little pastries like Charles Dickens all she wanted, I'd stick to the McMuffins.
You see, our dear English teacher favored those who kissed her ass. By this I mean that she favored the works of those who praised her writing accomplishments. It didn’t matter whether you were a decent writer or not. She was only interested in those who would listen tirelessly to her endless drivel and failed attempts at poetry.
Matika was like a tyrant, a dictator who tried to brainwash her subjects and I’m sorry to say that she managed to create a few minions of her own. These guys, two to be exact, were her little pets. For purposes of anonymity and to protect the good name of their families I’ll refer to them as Tird 1 and Tird 2.
Tird 1 was her favorite, an overbearing kiss-ass who made sure his lips were planted on Matika’s rear every chance he got. She called him ‘my brightest student’. I can tell you one thing. If there was anything bright about him it surely wasn’t the light on upstairs. His best piece of work was a two-paragraph piece on how he could fart on cue. Boy did that get laughs. It got an A too. I guess if I wrote some stories back then about gas exchange or 15 ways to pick my nose I’d be getting the same grades. I don’t know. Call me crazy but I try to write things with a little substance to them.
Tird 2 was no better. He spent his days in class praising Matika’s poetry and trying to emulate it on paper. If you’re wondering what her poetry was like, I happened to keep one of them for use as scrap paper. It was called The Pigeon and it reads…
I was walking through the park when a pigeon accosted me,
Dismembering me with its eyes it asked me for a donut,
I said I have only bread can’t you see
It defecated and flew away,
Leaving me with bread in hand and a hole in my soul
I made it clear to her one day in class that I didn’t like scones and I didn’t like the way she taught her class. I told her that I was in her class to learn how to write better and she just wasn’t doing her job. It was true that I wasn’t the best writer in the world but that was why I wanted to take the class.
“A writer has to start somewhere and obviously this is not the place for me,” I told her.
She glared at me for a moment and growled at me “Hark, peon…. if you do not find my writing superb then you will never be any kind of writer!”
I responded by taking my book and throwing it out the window. When she saw my book, stuffed with all the useless photocopies of her foul writings, she screamed “Who do you think you are, Shakespeare? Get out…. Get out of my class!”
I shook my head, picked up my bag and left. As I closed the classroom door behind me I heard one last howl – “You are no Shakespeare…I am Shakespeare…I am the God of this writing class!”
You might be thinking that I’m bitter because I didn’t get a good grade in her class. Well, let me tell you this one last story and you can decide for yourself. You see, our high school decided to do something really cool the last year I was there. They started their own student magazine called ‘Voices’. I was really pumped to go and check this out because it sounded like the thing for me. I checked it out and to my unfortunate surprise, Matika was running the show. I had some real reservations about submitting the two stories I had written specifically for the magazine but I took a few deep breaths and showed them to her. I remember her reading them with a stupid grin on her face, wiping the scone crumbs from her ugly mustard sweater. When she was finished she laid them down on the desk and smiled at me. She told me that besides a few spelling errors the stories were great and she was going to put them in the magazine.
I waited anxiously for three weeks until the magazine came out. I quickly flipped through the pages till I found my stories. At first glance they looked great. They took up a whole page. They weren’t my stories! She had taken out the words she deemed offensive like ‘damn’ and replaced them with ‘gosh’ and ‘golly’. My stories came out sounding like they were written by Mr. Rogers. What a bitch.
As much as I hated my first creative writing experience, I have to say that Miss Matika did teach me a few things. She taught me that the first step to being a good writer was to believe that I could be a good writer. If I had listened to Miss Matika back in high school I wouldn’t have continued to work on my writing style and grown as a writer. Criticism is good, as long as that criticism can help you make your work better. I guess that’s one thing that Miss Matika, in all her infinite wisdom about writing, didn’t learn for herself.
As bad a teacher as she was and as much as I should be able to forgot those horrible days under her tutelage I still have the occasional twisted fantasy about Miss Matika. I can picture her, undercover in some monastery in Europe dressed as a nun or a priest (she could swing both) spinning her web and snaring the unsuspecting nuns, playing them like puppets and turning their lives inside out. She’d coax them into revealing their hopes and dreams and then kick them in the ass as they were going out the door. When her novel was written she would escape the monastery in the dead of the night and head for the nearest publisher.
Two years down the road she’d be penniless and using her story True Nuns to stoke the barrel fire in front of her cardboard box on some backstreet alley.
I can just imagine myself walking by and her eyes lighting up.
Oh my God, Gary! It’s me…Miss Matika. You think you could give me something to eat?”
I’d stop and smile.
“Well gosh golly gee Miss Matika, I’m fresh out of scones!”.
© 1997 Gary Donnelly
|READER'S REVIEWS (6)
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"Gary, I loved your story. I laughed and shared your feelings about the wicked witch. I'm glad you made it..." -- Nelly, Los Altos, Ca, Usa.
"So true for any of us who has had creativity monsters going against our creative endeavors...this story is a very good and funny exercise in exorcism. Well done." -- Joan.
"Some teachers have it hard. Not getting the gist of why a student wishes to succeed really puts them a mile apart from those enthusiastic predagogues. Mine simply started to ignore me...poor slob! Keep up the good work. Neptune" -- Neptune.
"HAHAHHAHA..... (wiping eyes) I love your writing style; so cynical, so wry, so .... interesting. " -- Wolfa.
"Well Gary,you've accomplished one thing for sure! I could not stop scrolling through,till finished! WOW very good! Brought back memories,your intreging style kept me glued in. Throughly enjoyable. " -- Edgar A. Joe, Rupert, Idaho, USA.
"I would agree with Ms. Mitaka. Your skills are rather remedial. You resort to foul language for emphasis and although you have a very conversational tone, constant usage of "You see,"s and the like make it seem as if your character is more arrogant than Matika. What is so bad about the nun idea? That was a weak arguement. You also speak in fragmented sentences and there are some rather glaring grammatical errors involving everything from spelling to commas to quotational issues. The worst part was the "I learned something anyway," conclusion. I am sorry to tell you, but that IS a rather cliched device." -- B, chicago, il, 60626.
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© 1997 Gary Donnelly
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