From Symbols to Thought
by David Schlachter
As for my writing that’s found here, I might as well fill people in on how I acquired these skills. I began to read sometime early in my life, when I was living in Mexico. I actually didn’t read at first, I just had my parents read me a book or two so often that I memorized almost every word, and I guess when I pretended to read something sunk in. So when I saw a phrase like, “Dinosaurs were big,” and I said the same thing, I made a connection. And so began the beginning of my connections between little shapes and thoughts.
Eventually, I moved back over to Canada where reading and writing English in school was a thing that people did. I actually remember writing a story or two that I was particularly proud of in grade 2. Good times. And then came grade 3. And four. And five. And by then I was totally into reading. I guess I didn’t really have that many friends who I spent time with in the day, and so books were a decent way to spend my time. So I went through pretty much every single Hardy Boys mystery book at the Aylmer Elementary school library. And then I found a Calvin and Hobbes book, and so I started reading that too. And honestly, I think quite a bit of my vocabulary came from that series. And I remember practically every single comic being absolutely hilarious. It was good stuff too. And I was still interested in science, so I read a few good books about dinosaurs and stuff, but eventually I guess my focus moved to insects and I read a lot about them. Then I just started reading all sorts of stuff. I think I picked up a Harry Potter book sometime that year too. And I even dabbled in writing a bit, mostly just for school.
And soon grade 5 was over, and grade 6 arrived. That year I think I finished what had been written of Harry Potter, and I read the Hobbit for class and eventually picked up it’s sequels. It was a pretty good year for reading. And I started to think more about what I read, because the Quebec government was having me pump out responses to literature. I actually had a lot of fun with some creative writing pieces that year. And I think I was starting to read stuff on computers too. I actually remember that I really didn’t listen to music that time, pretty much the only stuff that I heard was classical, baroque style stuff. But I’m sure it was good for me in some way. I also felt like I knew everything at some points, and figured that, well, there was just nothing left for me to read! Of course, I didn’t really make the connection that logic like that would lead to me writing stuff to read.
Another big thing that happened in grade 6 was the development of “The DLI News”. It was a writing project of mine, that I’d actually been working on since grade 4. Back then, it was pretty much just me having fun pretending to be an important newspaper for David Labs Inc, which chronicled daily life in the Schlachter house. David Labs Incorporated was my company that I formed in grade 3, consisting of myself, a microscope, and a pile of business cards that I made. Eventually, the company’s members spread to my cousins, and became many, many things. I had originally wanted the company to be related to my ‘research’ of insects and dinosaurs, but it soon became the government of the forest at my grandparent’s place, a film company, an exclusive club, and also the publisher of this family newspaper.
The DLI news began, like I said, began as me writing about kind of fake stories of stuff going on in my house. It was a nice way for me to learn more about layout and computers, and also to improve my writing skills. Eventually though, I was unhappy with the direction that the DLI News and DLI were going, so I killed the DLI News, all branches of DLI except for research stuff, and started again. The old DLI News became the Schlachter/Larson press, and it withered away as my interests moved elsewhere.
The new DLI news covered stuff relating strictly to my ‘science-y’ interests, and was graced by headlines such as, “Hawkmoths To Emerge” and “First DLI Interprovincial Conference a success”. I liked to invent fake beurocracy, so DLI was laden with forms and protocols and stuff, which was actually really fun to write.
In retrospect, The DLI News influenced my writing style a lot. It helped my to develop my journalism writing, and by the time the DLI News faded I was getting pretty good at the semi-detached, elevated, half-truth style that we see in newspapers. I’ll include an excerpt here:
It was only this Summer when DLI West finally caught it’s first specimens that are to be pinned, a biting waterbug species. They became so plentiful in the Vauxhall Swimming pool, where they were captured, that it was closed because of danger to the many children. DLI West president and vice-president were quick to the scene after the pool opened, to see if there were any remaining. Two specimens were caught. “They would bite and hang on you so we (Tyler and myself) were hanging them on our fingers,” said Bronson Fikus, DLI West president. Even The DLI president and vice-president’s sister, Marissa is impressed. “I think it’s great DLI West has pinned some new bugs.” The new insects have been welcomed at DLI West’s main lab and will stay there, dead with a pin through them.
The DLI News pretty much died October 11, 2004, at the start of winter that year. Looking back, I’m a bit sad that it disappeared, but I guess I’ve moved on quite a bit since then.
The year the that DLI News died coincided with the year that I began homeschool. I was quite tired of Symmes, and had had a rough year. As for my writing, it needed some pretty intense improvement that year. The reason why work was so demanding was that I started grade 10. Now, you may be wondering why I was 13 then, and yet today as a 15 year old I’m still in grade 10. The reason was that for my homeschool curriculum I was doing Alberta’s grade 10 course by correspondance. And although I didn’t really finish the entire year, I did one semester with Math, French, CALM, and Social Studies. Socials Studies was really the subject that put strain on my writing, because I had to deal with the idea of essays. I had never written an essay before, so it was something new for me. Thankfully, my parents helped me get started, and by the end of the year I was pretty good at writing them, if I do say so myself. That year I was also in a homeschool drama club, and so I helped write a screenplay. Apart from writing, 2004-2005 was actually a pretty good school year for me. I joined the Macoun club, went to tenniss lessons, and even started MCT.
After having had enough of grade 10, I decided that I’d rather be in the school scene for a few reasons, and so I ended up at D’Arcy for grade 9. English class that year really helped me to work on my writing, and I even brought my newly-purchased eMate 300 along to write with sometimes. I also did a bit of writing on the side for the D’Arcy Voice, the school newspaper, and overall had a really fun year too.
Now, today, I like to write. I’m almost 16 years old, and taking grade 10 again, and even if I don’t read as much as I used to, I like to think about what I read a lot more than I did in the past. And sometimes I like to write about what I see and perceive, how I feel about life in general, the latest news from my emotions, while sometimes I try to write objectively, while at other times I carefully work a bias. To close, everything that I have ever written contributes to my style today, and of course I’m grateful to people who’ve helped me develop that style.
And so ends my biography of my writing. Maybe one day this will end up in my writing section.