Next up with the third installment of “School Days Writing”: sounds like something old-timey from Laura Ingalls Wilder or Lucy Maude Montgomery. I give you my word I am not THAT old.
After the thwarted novel attempt I discussed in my last “here I am as a hopeful adolescent writer” post, I daily scribbled in my very private journals. But as far as being published goes, all I can boast of is writing for my high school newspaper, Scope. There are a number of novels and memoirs, as well as movies, with young people writing in their school newspaper about politics and equality and making the school (next up, the world!) a better place.
Hmmm. Not so in my case. If only I could boast that I had written witty, scathing op-eds about the national or even local political arena, environmental issues or world peace. Although in truth, nobody was writing that kind of thing in the few issues of Scope I kept (uncovered in the box I’ve previously mentioned). There was a lot of talk about sports, accounts of the upcoming musical, exchange students, the science club’s latest discovery, and the ever-present tittle-tattle on teachers and students alike. What’s that, you ask? What did I write, then?
Here you have it: I wrote the fashion column during my grade eleven year. I was highly flattered to be hired for that particular column, mainly because I made most of my clothes in high school, and trust me, when I look back at any photos from that era, they definitely looked homemade. I made them not because I loved sewing, but because it was the only way I could come even close to wearing what I wanted to wear. I couldn’t afford to buy the things I coveted in the shops, or in the fashion magazines I hungrily lingered over at the drugstore, but I could, on the old portable Singer in our basement, figure out how to make them. My mother didn’t know how to sew at all, and she claimed she didn’t know why we even had a sewing machine. I put it down to another mystery from that cluttered old basement. Lest I’m making myself sound like the poor little match girl…not quite. It was just the logistics of growing up in a fairly large, very working class family where there was no extra money for anything but the barest necessities, and I wanted more than that.
I did learn the essentials of sewing in mandatory junior high Home Ec classes: one half the year cooking, one half sewing (note: the boys took Shop, which included workworking and car maintenance – no feminism rearing its head back in Winnipeg circa 1960s). But I needed more than the basics of sewing a straight seam and creating darts and learning the meaning of cutting on the bias to make what I longed to wear. So I taught myself – I would have promised my first born for Google back then – the way I learned a lot of things when I was younger: out of sheer desperation and determination. And I understand now that desperation and determination can create passion, which is good for getting things done – like the desperate determination I need to approach my novel-in-progress today.
The first theme I came up with was “The Young Look”, and somehow felt I had the authority to state: To start off the new school year in a big way, keep in mind that the look this season is “young”. Wait. Wasn’t I sixteen years old, and writing for high school? Wasn’t everybody young?
It gets worse. So much worse. After talking about skirts that fall into something that isn’t quite A-line but certainly isn’t straight, either (?) I actually wrote this: But the shirt that looks like “his” – but not on you! has achieved that daring “come-hither” look that everyone desires. In bold, yet shy (what does that mean?) printed or solid colors, it brings out all the femininity in you. Yikes. It’s impossible for me to remember what I was thinking. But it was a different time, and I was doing my best. And clearly there was no staff copy-editor to catch all those inconsistencies.
For my next column, which I titled “Comfortable Casual Carefree”, I discussed the merits of the pant-suit. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, I included illustrations.
Although I continued my new writing career through the year, I think two examples are enough for you to get the picture. Saying “we all start somewhere” feels like a rather large understatement in this case, don’t you think?