ASSIGNMENT FROM WRITING INSTRUCTOR: Go to your purse, wallet, or junk drawer and take out three items and place them on the table in front of you. Choose one item to write about. Write a 1000 or 1200 word essay on the subject.
Things to think about as you are writing your personal essay:
1. stay focused on your message
2. add thoughtful, funny, colorful examples
3. don't tell the mundane details
4. make the message universal enough to reach a wide readership
5. arrive at a basic truths
6. get your reader involved
7. use emotions and word pictures
8.pick an experience you care about
9.steer clear of anger and negative emotions
11.use the essay to educate, inform, and entertain.
WHAT I SUBMITTED IS AS FOLLOWS:
A DIFFICULT WOMAN
A picture of a woman named Virginia appeared in front of me as I was searching for an item to write about. I used some tips from the 'I believe website' for my story.
As an event planner for senior adults for many years I have learned so much from and about them. Sometimes all they need is a little touch to let them know someone cares. I would like to share an incident that changed the way I see others.
As the bus was loading for our local monthly outing, I asked everyone to double up and not leave a seat empty.
"I'm not sitting next to Virginia!" exclaimed the last person on the bus.
I sat with Virginia and gave up my seat at the front of the bus, near the driver. That comment didn't seem to bother Virginia, but I wondered if it had. I could not bear to sit with her, because she was so negative, but I would smile anyway as I took the seat next to her. At our banquet people would avoid her. She never had a kind word for anyone including her husband, who tolerated the verbal abuse. I'm sure he turned a deaf ear.
The same problem arose when I planed seating arrangements for our local outdoor dinner theater: what to do with Virginia? I would smile and tell her that we were chairmates again. This all happened several times a month over a 15 year period. About a year before Virginia died we were having our monthly program and she came to me and asked what my middle name was.
"My mother named me Betty Jean after her only doll," I responded. She gasped and started crying, "I knew there was a reason I have bonded with you over the years. You have been so nice to always sit by me. My first born died in a yard fire when she was two. Her name was Betty Jean." I embraced her as she fought back tears. That comment had to have been the kindest thing she had ever uttered to anyone. At that moment I felt ashamed of myself because I too, like the others, had never wanted to sit with her.
Somewhere deep inside each of us lies something good. If only we could show a little compassion to those who can't, it may make a difference in their lives and in the process make us feel good about what we've done.
I believe a child learns what they live. Who knows what happened in her life that made her so bitter. She evidently had a hard life as a child and raised eight children by herself. She remarried after they were grown.
I miss Virginia and often wonder if there are any others out there that knew her, who were touched by her as I was.
BELOW ARE COMMENTS FROM STUDENTS IN THE CLASS AS WELL AS THE INSTRUCTOR AFTER SUBMITTING THIS LESSON:
1. Nicely written, and very true. You should be proud you managed to make a friend out of a difficult woman simply by sitting next to her. I can relate, I'm very good friends with a woman at an assisted living I work at. She always complained about everything, and no one liked her except me. I don't know why she decided I was the best of the lot, but she's now become like a surrogate grandmother to me, hugs and all.
2. Lovely story and one I would submit to a magazine.
3. Instructor: powerful, clear and crisp prose.
SHAKESPEARE: WORDS WITHOUT THOUGHTS NEVER TO HEAVEN GO.
HAMLET, ACT 3, SCENE 3.
COMMUNICATE WITH MEANING...Frederick Talbott
SHAKESPEARE: THE TRUTH YOU SPEAK DOTH LACK SOME GENTLENESS, AND TIME TO SPEAK IT IN. YOU RUB THE SORE WHEN YOU SHOULD BRING THE PLASTER.
THE TEMPEST, ACT 2, SCENE 1
WORK TO MEND, NOT IRRITATE-Frederick Talbott
* COLOSSIANS 3:12, 13: Practicing tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don't worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and be ready to forgive; never hold grudges. remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
That is a tough one for many of us, but one in Virginia's final days, she showed me without actually realizing it.
I have learned so much from my writing classes. Not just from the instructor, but also the constructive criticism as well as all those pats on the back rooting me on from the students in the class. I hope you have enjoyed the article I submitted for my class assignment. If you have any comments on what I have posted or if you can relate in any way, and want to share please make a comment. Anyone interested in writing, may find the ideas from the instructor, that was listed above, helpful.