In seventh grade, Global Studies was taught by the intimidating Mr. L. This guy could take the piss out of any one. He is the only teacher to ever give me a detention. It was for having a messy binder. Seriously. I talked my way out of it.
I also consider Mr. L to be the first person to give me a true compliment on my writing. We had a standard homework assignment of reading a chapter from the textbook, and writing out our answers to a series of questions. As he handed back my graded paper, my eyes fearfully flew to the red pen at the bottom of the page.
“Thank you for being concise.”
Confused, I took the paper to him after class. Generally, red pen meant something bad. Was he insinuating I wasn’t putting in enough effort? I inquired as to my error.
“No,” He said, without even taking a break from cleaning the black board. “I appreciate that you state your answers and move on. It makes your writing easy to understand, and it saves me time.”
A bit baffled, but oddly flattered, I withdrew quietly from his classroom, clutching my messy Bugs Bunny binder.
To this day, I firmly believe that is a signature of my style. Get to the point. Weed out the words that don’t add anything to the purpose. Leave little room for confusion.
Bad for a novel. Good for a blog post.