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My writing life - so far, from age 4 on

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Off the Grill

I started writing when I was about four years old. It wasn’t a major work, by any means – only a few sentences, but my mom framed it and kept it for many years. I’m sure she still has it somewhere. I could read at age 4 also, which made school really easy for me. In first grade I was in a friendly competition with one of my classmates to read every book in the classroom. I’m pretty sure neither one of us reached that goal, but I did read every section, module and volume of the SRA Reading Laboratory, but back to my writing. My next claim to fame was in sixth grade when I placed first in a poetry contest. There was a gubernatorial election that year and somehow I came up with some rhymes about the candidates. I was told much later that the subject of my poem, Dave Treen, not only read it, but thought it was pretty good. He won the election that year, by the way. The back side of this is that my mom had to DRAG me to the awards ceremony which was held at Louisiana Tech University. I was much more interested in watching “The Dukes of Hazard,” but after MUCH insistence, she convinced me to show up. I still have the certificate on my wall.

In junior high and high school, I basically didn’t write anything unless I had to. I always waited until the very last minute to turn my work in. I’m a lot more timely today – most of the time. I recall one particular group project for my history class and my partners on the project turned out to be real duds. The writing process that I was taught for historical writing was to gather relevant information, make an outline, figure out an introduction and a conclusion, and start writing. I had to do all that. But, in the end it was good training. In college, the writing requirements were much higher than what I had experienced in high school, and I struggled for a while. One of my professors changed that. We said that I needed to write with the reader in mind. Everything that goes on paper needs to have a flow, like a piece of music. Once I was able to embrace this style of writing, I saw many big gains and I was able to write more lengthy papers without any hesitation. I even edited some of my friends’ papers from time to time. Remember floppy discs for your computer? I filled one up with just academic writing. That had to have been over one hundred pages in my estimation.

Nowadays I continue to use a free style of writing and once I get set on something all I have to do is to let it out. It’s actually a relief, sometimes to get some of the thoughts swimming around in my head on paper. This is going to sound odd, but I often compose a large part of what I want to write about in my head and then I basically take dictation. I’ll add some bits here and there as the words come out and I do my best to avoid spelling and grammar errors, of course. I truly enjoy writing for The Examiner, mainly because it gives me an outlet for all this stuff in my head and because I have a deadline to meet. Sometimes the lazy high school writer will show up at my desk, but more often than not, it’s just me at the helm, writing as best as I can for as long as I can.

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.