But sometimes a writing opportunity comes along that becomes especially meaningful. And sometimes that opportunity starts out as being one you did not start out too excited about. I've mentioned before that I had two school paper due recently. They were both kind of monstrous, involving research and citations and headaches and whatnot.
The poetry one was not that fun for me, but it was great practice for finding pertinent research and for writing on a topic that I was not enthused about. I also chose an angle to write on that wasn't necessarily an obvious one, and I worried that my teacher would disagree with my presentation. But I guess I argued my points well because she thought it was fabulous and read it to the class. I'm glad it's over.
My other paper was a different experience though. I was dreading it when the teacher announced it to the class. But I started getting excited about it when I decided I'd interview my mother about her father's polio, and write my paper on that. Grandpa passed away several years ago, but my mom remembers some really fascinating things from watching him deal with his illness. I won't go into all that, but I will say that writing this paper ended up being a really special experience. I got to talk with my mom for hours on a topic that made a big impact on her life: her dad. Yes his having polio was kind of a big deal, but so much the profound love and admiration she has for him stems from how he dealt with the disease. The extremity of his suffering is the kind of thing that shows a person's true character. It strips away all pretense and exposes the honest soul within. And my grandpa was truly an elite character. The hardest part about narrating this story was deciding what to cut out.
Then I also had to find some historical references to compare his experience to. I had a really hard time deciding what direction to go with that. In the end, I looked at some statistics on polio, both in the Seattle area, where he lived, during the time of his illness and at the national level over the course of about 85 years. It ended up being fascinating, looking at those numbers and thinking that he was one of them. He wasn't alone, but his story was quite unique in spite of that. I also explored some of the wonderful benefits that came out of the epidemic. The overall theme of my paper was in looking at the benefits that come from difficulty. Again, I wasn't sure how my teacher would receive it, but I ended up with 100%. More importantly, I ended up with some information and some memories that I will always cherish.
So I guess today, I'd just like to say that any opportunity to write is a good one. If it doesn't sound interesting or if it doesn't immediately inspire, it's still worth doing. I have a couple more successful experiences to add to my collection. But sometimes you end up falling flat on your face. That's okay, too. And still worth the experience. Take any opportunity you can, look for opportunities when they don't come to you, and create them when they seem not to exist. Just write!