Pivotal Moments by Kidd Wadsworth

August 18, 2019 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , with 3 and 1
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Weird. Dumb-ass. Late bloomer. How wonderfully my family described me. Yeah, you guessed it. I hated me, too. At fifteen, I had the social skills of a toilet brush. I spent most of my day desperately trying to say the right thing, so maybe I’d have some friends. Only in World History did I feel accepted. With her fantastic stories, my teacher brought history
alive. She encouraged discussion. Even seemed to like me.

Forty-plus years later, I still remember how the room smelled of chalk and the musky perfume of the cheerleader who sat four chairs away; how it had a cooped-up warmth from the hour-long exhaling of twenty people. We sat crammed into small desks, the kind you slid into from the side with a writing surface big enough only for a single sheet of paper. Up front sat the teacher, the green blackboard behind her filling the entire wall.

Eager to express myself, I was quick to add my opinion on socialism. I spoke against welfare and social security. Rather, I said we should take care of each other. I didn’t believe the government needed to provide these services. In fact, I thought the government did a rather poor job. I suppose I didn’t express myself well; I wasn’t clear. Even to this day, I don’t fully understand why my opinion that people should look to themselves, rather than the government, to help their neighbor, should ignite such anger. Surely, at most, I was hopelessly naïve.

For a full twenty minutes, the class raged against me, calling me mean, harsh, unkind and unfeeling. Bewildered, I tried to explain my position, but the voices only grew louder more hateful. At the end of the class, the teacher asked me to stay behind. I stood beside her desk shaking from the effort to hold back my tears. Tall and skinny, I clutched my books in front of me, my shoulders rounded down against the recent blows. I thought she would apologize to me for letting the class get out of control. I thought she saw my hurt. Instead, very gently, she said, “I’d like to tell you
about the Christ.”

Perhaps I should thank her. In one sentence she managed to teach me why the separation of church and state is absolutely necessary. After all, I’d just been told by a person, put in a position of authority by the government, that my political opinions were so heinous that I must be a heathen and in need of religious indoctrination, which she was eager to supply. I politely informed her that I regularly attended church.

*

Pivotal moments in our lives are marked by strong emotions: rage, hatred, shame, regret, fear, joy, hilarity, ecstasy. It is essential that we writers learn to convey these strong emotions to our readers. Story is emotion based. If we are not feeling, we’re not reading.[1] So how does a writer learn to convey emotion? How do we teach ourselves this skill? My solution is to feel the emotion myself by first writing about a pivotal moment in my life. By grappling with my own past, by dredging up a betrayal, or the bitterness of regret, by reliving a moment of pure joy, I find that my subsequent writing tastes real. Of course, when the emotions I’m reliving are negative, the cost to me is huge, because I must bleed again, before my characters bleed at all.


[1] Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Author Bio
Author Bio
Kidd writes to bring to life our magical, fire-breathing world. She believes we are super heroes. Its time we put on our capes.
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    Weird. Dumb-ass. Late bloomer. How wonderfully my family described me. Yeah, you guessed it. I hated me, too. At fifteen, I had the social skills of a toilet brush. I spent most of my day desperately trying to say the right thing, so maybe I’d have some friends. Only in World History did I feel […]
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Kidd writes to bring to life our magical, fire-breathing world. She believes we are super heroes. Its time we put on our capes.
  • Neetu Malik says:

    We wouldn’t be authentic writers if we didn’t draw on our own lives and experiences to create what we create. Your post is personal, honest and powerful. Thank you!

  • Dianna Sinovic says:

    A powerful post. Your personal story is filled with such vivid detail. It’s no wonder that your fiction is imbued with deep feeling as well.

  • DT Krippene says:

    Writers often draw on riptides from their past to express emotion. Yours left an indelible mark that makes your stories come alive, remind us of how human we are. I’m glad that your zeal for the craft wasn’t dampened by the harshness of life’s foibles. Thank you for this.

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