What do you name a blog? The good names I know are catchy and define the writing in some way. “Editorial Anonymous,” by an unnamed book editor, gives delicious writing advice. Shadra Strickland’s “Living the Dream” hints at satisfaction in her work as an illustrator. Jane Yolen’s “Telling-the-True-a-Writers-Journal” includes the good, the bad, and the middling – even a count of her latest rejection letters.
When I began my life journey, the education talk was about the three “r’s” – readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic. I soon had my preferences. I could do the first fairly well before I started to school, thanks to a mother who couldn’t bear to have an illiterate five-year-old on her hands. Kindergarten, in rural North Mississippi, did not exist.
I could do the ‘rithmetic. I just found it boring. Consider that 7 + 6 = 13 on Monday. It will not change over the course of the next week – or next month – or next year. You get the picture. Same. Same. Same.
Words in the reading books, on the other hand, changed from cover to cover. Open a new book and it might begin:
- “ ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”
- Or “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
- Or my all time favorite book, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
- Even today, the first sentence in a book excites me. My current favorite is Richard Peck’s, “If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad month for it,” from The Teacher’s Funeral.
Of course, my readin’ led to ‘ritin’. What a world for experimenting! I took quickly to ‘ritin’ and found it chock full of possibilities. Move those words around. Make a poem. A story. A riveting opinion piece. How I blessed the teachers who gave essay exams! If I knew even a tad about a topic, I could take words and spin an answer.
As for the ‘rithmetic, the numbers went higher and the problems became more complex, but once you learned how to set up an algebra equation and the order for working it, you were back to same, same, same. Like a spoonful of sugar, it did help if the set-up was a word problem. Still.
So there you have it. I continue to relish the first two and find the third a necessary evil. If you choose to read this blog, you’ll see there’s a lot about readin’, a lot about ‘ritin’, and not so much about ‘rithmetic.