Back in high school, I had this old, old journalism teacher by the name of Ms. Keefe. She was brutal when it came to curbing my creative writing talents. I had a weekly column in a Chicago suburban newspaper that she had set up for me. I was to write interesting stories about what was happening around Lyons Township High School, and she needed to approve them before they were submitted.
Ms. Keefe was so picky. She chopped my outstanding flowing copy into short sentences. She made me drop most of my adjectives and adverbs. Sometimes she edited out entire paragraphs. Ms. Keefe made me write my first sentences over and over again.
Even with her whittling down my unique style, several of my features got picked up by the Chicago Tribune, which was a pretty cool thing for a high school kid.
My grade point average sucked when I attempted to enroll at the University of Illinois.
I found out Ms. Keefe secretly sent a letter of recommendation on my behalf. Somehow, I got in. I never thanked her.
Fifty years later I looked at my old high school yearbook. There was a picture of Kay Keefe, not a year over 50.