Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's raining outside? Must be time for introspection.

So.. was thinking about some of my past writing ideas this morning and remembered a sort of funny incident that happened in my first year of Law School.  When you do your first year of law school, your classes are already assigned, you don't have a choice on what to take, you are with your group, (usually a group of around 50 or so students to a group) for both semesters with no option on classes, that's pretty much universal.

So my group had the normal classes, contracts, torts, criminal law, and a legal writing course.  Our very first written assignment was supposed to be really easy.  An 18 year old boy was injured by a neighbor's negligent actions, and his promising football career was likely over because of the injury.  We were, supposedly, retained by the neighbor to write our opinion of his liability to the neighbor, both for the damage done to their property, and the injury to the child.. and to attempt to determine if our client was liable for future earnings damage since the boy was a highly recruited QB who had a very promising career in front of him.  However, there was treatments that the boy could have done, but that were painful and were not foolproof, and the boy decided not to pursue his dream of playing football by taking the treatments, much to the disappointment of his father very vocally encouraging father.

My classmates all dove in and, I'm sure, wrote wonderful treatises on the legal aspects of the situation.  I, on the other hand, sat down and wrote out my legal opinion, and then wrote out my 'other theory'.. which consisted of a premise that the young man had really intentionally burned his hands to be able to stop playing because it was his overbearing father who had pushed him to play a game that he willingly gave up without much of a fight.  My contention was that, at trial, I could argue the above and as there would be no hard evidence to disprove my theory, that I could in all likelihood win a verdict for my client.

In hindsight.. my 'theory' might have played on Law and Order, but in a real courtroom it wasn't nearly as brilliant as it seemed 2 months into my legal education.

It was in sitting down with my legal writing Professor that I learned some things about myself.  I'd always liked the creative process of writing.. I can remember all the way back to elementary school, I was more inventive than the other students.. my papers were usually always read in class.  I still remember, with pride, my story in 6th grade where my hero, "Shelton Thirdkill" was caught by the bad guy with no weapons and no escape. In desperation Shelton rips off a ring from his finger and throws it on the ground between himself and the villain.. but rather than do anything of value, it merely grows to the size of a hula hoop.  The villain laughs at the last failed attempt to save himself and approaches to strike the killing blow to our hero.. without stopping he steps over the ring and.. is microwaved alive.  (Tip of the hat to Raiders)
My story was the hit of the year.. people would pretend to throw down rings during recess, PE.. as the author it was glorious.

Even in college, my first year at Boise State after my mission I took English 101 & 102 because my credits didn't transfer from Ricks for some reason.. my first paper was a comparison of a football game and a date, where they both ended well and showed some promise for the future.  My professor encouraged me to submit the paper to the Boise Weekly, the 'alternative' paper in Boise. I was shocked and proud that he thought so much of my writing.. but I couldn't imagine my stupid little paper being that good, so I just went on my way.  I wrote other papers for the class, some good.. some witty.. some just lip service, but I felt no small amount of pride in having my own belief in my writing ability reinforced by someone who had a Masters in Creative Writing.

However.. I was still under the belief that there was no way anyone could make a living as a writer.. I mean.. who does that, right?  So I studied Spanish to boost my GPA, (since I spoke it thanks to my Mission), and Political Science as I thought it would give me a leg up at Law School.  (Big Mistake. Looking back, oddly enough, English and writing would have served me much, much more.)  As a Junior at Boise State I was recommended by my Political Science Professors to work in the English Department as a writing tutor.. so my final 2 years of my Undergrad I worked in the Boise State writing center as a writing tutor. Helped pay for groceries and gas, and really let me enjoy my time. I really had fun being around people who were so focused on writing, but again I thought they were delusional.

Now, looking back, if I could go back and redo my undergrad, I'd have focused on English.. even going to Law School, it would have served me better than Poli-Sci, and besides, becoming a better writer is never a bad decision.  So instead, now I'm learning by reading books on writing and going to writing conferences.  Not that I don't enjoy this learning process, in truth I'm probably more focused now than I would have been in college, but I constantly kick myself for suppressing my desire to write for so long.

**Random thought for the day**    ..... Is there another word for synonym?

2 comments:

  1. ha... i thought about taking polisci and law and ended up taking english and philosophy

    ive been writing for a good ten years or so now, and ill tell u reading books on writing and the conferences are okay to build a foundation... but really the best way to improve is to simply spend that time reading and writing

    stephen king mentioned similar stuff in his book On Writing... which is probably the best writing book out there if u havent read it!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Jeremy. Wish I'd have switched over to Eng/Philo.. think it would have served me better. Although, if you're not going to law school, I think Poli Sci is a good area of study.. just was redundant, and frankly pretty basic on the Undergrad level.

      I hear you about the learn by doing, and yes, I've got the Stephen King book, I've actually read it a few times, and I've got my favorite parts marked. Wealth of knowledge in that book, thanks for the suggestion regardless.. appreciate it.

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