Writing Block


’ve always had stories, so fiction was easy when assigned in school. The big however is, mechanics and other factors such as an inability to spell and atrocious handwriting resulted in low grades on those assignments. My take on handwriting is that I was born left handed and forced to write like normal people as it was considered in those days. Those days meaning deep religious roots and small-town school standards in rural America. Unknown to me at the time, left handedness was a prejudicial concern without cause. I’m not looking for another oohhh here, but I’m going to tell a truth anyway.

The cut-off date for first grade was October 15 and I would be six on the 19th. But Mother’s insisting that I could already read at a rudimentary level was of no avail. (I really don’t remember but she told me more than once.) Not only did I start school late, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed more school than I attended during the first three grades. Mother told me that we’d lived in over 50 places during those years.
Skip forward to fourth grade – new school – new teacher – same problem being left handed. If I did spell a word correctly, my right-handed cursive was nearly illegible – F in spelling and low grades in composition or other writing assignments. And often there was the whack of a ruler on my left hand for putting a pencil in it. Oh, my attitude: I gave up trying to memorize spelling words – most would be marked wrong anyway!
Seventh grade: Another new school and I’d already given up trying to go back to being left-handed. About half-way through the school year, I decided it was time to make a positive change in my academics. My English teacher gave us 25 new spelling words a week, and I decided to spend as much time as I needed to memorize that week’s words.
I scored 100% on the test. Then the teacher asked me to stay after class. I’ve still not forgotten her saying, “Benson, I don’t know how you cheated. I’ll re-test you after school.” I sat in a front desk and she read the words. For whatever reason, she didn’t believe my legitimately getting them all correct. She passed me but refused to give me the score I’d earned. I should have done the same study routine again, but I didn’t. I don’t remember passing a spelling test again.
In high school, I signed up for typing. Some of my friends had because ‘that’s where the girls are,’ but I had a different reason. If I typed my papers, they could be read. That was true, but the however was, compositions and reports had to be hand written to ensure they weren’t done by a student’s mother.
My spelling didn’t get much better when I could type papers in college, but the professors could read my errors. Then word processing with a computer came along. That was followed by spill chick which helped me with spelling.


nce I wrote fiction about finding boy scouts on thin ice who said they’re there by their choice. In that report, I had to type more than two pages too.

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