Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In which I attempt a very difficult writing assignment. . .

. . . and am embarrassed to post it, but I have to post it, because a typical brat over at nonsensical text asked for some writing prompts recently. I told her about Bub and Pie's torture device--I mean writing assignment--which she used to give to one of her writing classes. The assignment was to write a 500+ word autobiography. Very shortly a typical brat had hers, vagueness personified, up and I have been shamed into writing my own. I can't suggest a writing prompt for someone I am unwilling to do, can I?

So, while this feels like I am getting ready to go for a ride on a scary roller coaster, sweaty palms and all, here, without further ado, is my 500+ word autobiography:

Driving as quickly as he dared over an Oklahoma country road after Thanksgiving dinner, my grandfather escorted my mother to the small town hospital hoping against hope his next grandchild would not be born in his car–which I wasn’t, because my mother managed to wait until she got to the hospital for the general anaesthesia it was common to use in the mid-60s–for the circumstances of my birth provided enough drama for him: my mother, his oldest child, had already given birth almost six years earlier to an illegitimate child, a boy, and my parents had seen fit to end their marriage practically before it had begun, my mother barely pregnant--not a very good track record for a preacher’s daughter--and he didn’t know yet that in spite of the circumstances, I would bring him much joy, first for the love that we shared for each other, the love of any grandfather for his grandchild, and my love for the only grandfather I ever knew--who in many ways was also a substitute father to me--and next for the love we shared for the Lord, a love that began for him twenty or so years before my birth and for me which started a few days before the early winter morning when I was fifteen and I got up early–so that it would be just the two of us–to tell him I had asked Christ to be my Savior and to ask him if he would please baptize me, to which, of course, he said yes, baptizing me just a few days later at a small Free Will Baptist church in Southern California, although this love was not without conflict and pain--the pain for me coming when I was seventeen years old and he and my grandmother moved back to Oklahoma after years in California and I cried for the fear that I would never see him again, especially because of his heart problems, and for him the conflict that came with my not choosing to go to a Free Will Baptist church and college, instead opting for an independent Christian church and an affiliated small, private college nearby–that conflict and pain, however, did not interfere with our love for each other, and I did get to see him many times after he moved and he eventually accepted that my faith would take roots in a different church and he took solace in the fact that the doctrines of his and my churches were actually closely aligned and even sent me a copy of his favorite commentary of the book of Romans while I was studying that book of the Bible during college--a class in which I am still proud to have received an A+ grade on my final paper, along with the comment, from an esteemed, yet wacky professor, that it was “suitable for publication”--and as the years went by, my grandfather’s health worsened and though he lived to see me married, he died before I finished an undergraduate degree in Literary Studies, had my two children and helped plant a new church, but I am grateful for having known him, for his love and for his getting my mom to the hospital on time that Thanksgiving day in 1964.


And Professor B&P? The following is for you:

  • Final word count: 549
  • Flesch-Kincaid grade level: 16
  • Passive voice (% of finite verb phrases): 4
  • Sentence complexity (100 = very complex): 81
  • Vocabulary complexity: 16

14 comments:

Ruth Dynamite said...

Wow - how interesting! (And how brave of you to challenge yourself in this way!)

sunshine scribe said...

WOW - that is terribly impressive (I chickened out on doing this myself - but maybe I'll reconsider - we'll see).

It was also facinating. Your grandfather sounds like a very loving man that had such a profound influence on your life. Thanks for sharing this Mary.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm impressed! I'm also too chicken to embark on that assignment...

bubandpie said...

I loved the way you used your relationship with your grandfather as the focus of your "sentence." (And I always get a kick out of your references to "Free Will Baptist" - as if the other Baptists were "automated robots" as Typepad would put it.)

And a Fleisch-Kincaid of 16! I've gotta go put my sentence through that score-generator.

atypical said...

Hey, where is this score generator. this homeschooling mom could sure use it from time to time.

Loved your sentence. I was just thinking that I could have spend just a little bit of time making mine interesting. LOL

I'm glad you and your grandfather had each other.

atypical said...

Geez, and look at my typos on my comment. Looks like this homeschooling mom could use a live-in editor.

Mary-LUE said...

Thanks you guys. I was so nervous about it because I don't remember a subordinate clause from a what? See I don't even remember any other grammatical terms. I only knew to use the name subordinate clause because of B&P's post. That is one reason why I am nervous about graduate school. I've forgotten so much of what I used to know so readily. I need to get out my Eats, Shoots and Leaves book and actually read it!

Once I got started, it came more easily than I thought it would. I always remembered the story of my grandpa nervously driving a small country road in the dark to get my mom to the hospital. After starting there, it was mostly a matter of keeping hyphens and commas straight--which I am not actually sure I accomplished.

B&P: Those good old FW Baptists. I love them dearly. Basically they are the renegade non-Calvinist group of the bunch. They definitely don't identify themselves with "other" Baptists hence, I think, my tendency to always include the whole name when I mention them. ;)

Atypical: This whole reading ease thing came from a post Mom-101 did, in August, I think. The link to a site that will score your blog is here:

http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php

I was able to use an option in my grammar check in Word Perfect to get the stats I posted. Just so you know, an optimum grade level is actually supposed to be like 4th grade, indicating the ease of reading. Get it? And the complexity score? I think 60-75% percent or something is the ideal. At least I didn't score too high on use of passive tense. Active is better. Um... I think.

atypical said...

Yes, active is better. I had forgotten all of the terms too until I had kids hit jr. and sr. high school and I had to get back into coordinating and subordinating, principal parts and gerunds. It's no wonder I have forgotten how to spell.

V-Grrrl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this story--and the sub-story of your mother and grandfather that's suggested here. I also like to hear how people navigate their faith. Some people embrace the faith they're raised in easily and without question, others leave it all behind, and some use it as a starting point on a life long journey. Of course, this last group is the one I find most interesting because, ahem, that would be me and you.

Em said...

I love how you've used your grandfather and your shared faith as the focus to your autobiography. I made an attempt to do this exercise too - it is on my blog - poor grammar notwithstanding...

Karen Zara said...

Your autobiography is a very enjoyable read. I liked the way you connected all the events and managed to tell your lifestory in a few words.

I might try this exercise... someday.

chickenone said...

Well done! Too tall of a task for me today. I do want to try it though.

Paul said...

This is too hard to read - no spaceships, robots, nudity, surround sound, hyperspace, no gratuitous anything. Mostly no pictures. I give it a D+ but keep trying.

metro mama said...

Wow! I haven't had the nerve to try this one yet.