I had no idea what she was talking about.
I didn’t want to look stupid though, by asking the question that the other 99% of the students seemed to already knew the answer to, so I would just nod-nod-nod. Of course, of course, I get it! My nods were very convincing. If you nod enough, anyone will believe you.
Sure, I get it! I do! I get it!
(I didn’t really get it.)About 20 years later, I had my Oprah Winfrey lightbulb moment when I was explaining my definition of good writing to a friend.
“Don't write a phrase like ‘I am cold.’ That is punching the reader in the face with the obvious. Try something more subtle like, ‘I forgot my coat and it began to snow,’ that way the reader has to connect the dots. Instead of saying something predictable like, ‘I’m tired,’ try to write something creative that shows you are tired such as ‘The neighbors had a party and blared heavy metal through the paper-thin walls until 3 AM, and then I had to be up at 6 for work. No pot of coffee is large enough for me today.’ The reader figures out you are tired, and your words actually have more impact that way. You write the situation without spelling it out for the reader, you let them do the translations for themselves.”
(And as an aside to my 9th grade teacher: Better late than never, right?)