Years ago I took an adult ‘Writing for Publication’ class. Attending weekly required the
juggling of work, family, pets, etc. so it was sometimes difficult to complete assignments. Frances Rockwell, our delightfully wacky teacher, usually understood. She taught us about all the genres available to writers.
With little free time, my reading was selective. I enjoyed, as I still do, history, classics, biographies, and novels. I once tried reading six romances with the idea of writing some, but decided if you can’t read it, you can’t write it.
One assignment was to write a piece for the ‘Confession’ market. I didn’t bother. This time, for some reason, Rockwell chose to ask me, as I left with a whole group of women, why I hadn’t turned it in. Why did she pick on me???
Had I not been so young and stupid, I’d have apologized and said I hadn’t had time. She would have accepted that. That wasn’t what I did. Oh, no! I had to open my big mouth! (Maybe I needed a lesson I’d never forget.) Instead of being wise, I chose to be a smart-ass.
‘I’m not interested in writing that kind of crap.’ I announced. Oh, oh. That did it!
‘You’re not interested? Indeed, if there is anyone in this class who could bend a little, it’s you. NICE ladies don’t write interesting stuff. It would do you in particular good to climb down from your pedestal. It would do you good to write a Confession piece.’
I deserved it, but why didn’t the floor open up and swallow me at that moment? I would have been happy to have breathed my last breath if only it would. I was embarrassed, humiliated — and humbled. Right there In front of everyone I had been properly cut down. Demolished.
I’m sure that wasn’t the last time I allowed a thoughtless, stupid comment to pass my lips, but I’ve never forgotten it. I sheepishly crawled back to class the next week and completed the course.
You know I’m too neurotic to forget something like that, so years later, when I finally had some time to write, what was the first thing I worked on? Right. I did that darned assignment and sent it off to ‘True Story’ in New York.
Lo and behold, our telephone rang while we were breakfasting weeks later. They wanted it! They paid me $250. (The most I’d ever been paid for anything at the time.)
Susan, a very clever teenager, looked up over her Cheerios. She had no idea what it was I’d sold. (I hadn’t told anyone about it.)
‘Can I read it?’ She asked. How could I say no? She’d think that strange so I got it for her and she read.
‘I can’t believe my mother wrote this,’ she almost stuttered, and again ‘I can’t believe my mother wrote this!’ Susan, usually so verbal, was almost speechless.
Afterwards, I sent a published copy to Mrs. Rockwell, with a note saying I’d finally done the assignment she had dressed me down for, and that I was sure she would find it satisfactory — since I’d sold it.
Her response was a total surprise. Not being as neurotic as I am, she didn’t recall the incident. However, she wrote if she had done so, it was because she felt I was someone especially talented enough to make it. Interesting, I hadn’t realized that.
Well, the ‘Confessions’ genre is long gone. Young people today have no need to read about it — they’re busy doing it themselves. And no. I didn’t choose to write another.
What was the “true confession” about? Do I recall correctly that it was not true whatsoever???
My lips are sealed. Chuckle. Love ya, Mom
Muriel, you made me laugh while reading your blog. You are writing new blogs faster than President Trump is firing his staff. I have one “BIG” problem with this blog. I was waiting to read your confession and what did I get- bupkis, nada, zilch. It is cruel to tease your loyal readers. Tell us your true confession immediately and all will be forgiven. Love, Brian
Exactly, Brian! Inquiring minds want to know!
Apparently many of my readers, brilliant souls all, are curious about what I ended up writing. I may have to give in on this. Thinking…..Muriel/Maughm
It was fun to write Brian: And some true and some not. Isn’t that what most writers do?
Hello Muriel….Alfred Hitchcock could not have written this suspenseful blog any better than you. I am left wondering what your confession was all about. You sure earned your fee. I suspect your article was fiction so I am not going to inquire any further about its content…..unless you reveal it in the September blog. Contratulations on a well written and suspenseful blog. You are so talented.
And you are terrific to be so generous in your praise Joe: Thank you for reading. Fond regards, Muriel
I’m curious too, Muriel! But you could always leave us wondering….mystery can be a good thing!
Gosh Val: What to do? It WAS a trashy magazine, and the story I wrote is as well. I’m still thinking on it…. Stay well, Muriel
Muriel, I’ve never been interested in romance novels either! That was a very brave response on your behalf to the professor. I remember in grade 11 chemistry I skipped the class a few times and my professor scolded me in front of the class for wasting my potential and we had a little back and forth shouting. It’s nice when people believe in you enough to give you some tough love.
Now, where is your confessional article and why have i never seen it?
What to do? Ruin the mystery or tell all? Love ya Vinson, Muriel