Detention Diatribes By Toni Roberts

Like so many other things in my life, I came by a writing career the hard way.

Other people I meet say they became writers after falling in love with the classics like Dickinson, Frost and Woolf. Or, they developed a passion for language and the many words one could use to describe an event or feeling.

I became a writer because of high-school detention.

I was one of those students who fell between the cracks. I didn’t excel in my classes, nor was I learning disabled. I was the last of many children in a single-parent family, I had few friends, and I was born with a socially-crippling skin disorder, just to keep things interesting. The free fall between those cracks seemed to last forever.

I rarely attended classes. As punishment, I was required to serve detention, something I never missed. I realized the irony of this, but detention was served in the typing room. Every day at 3:30, I was greeted by row after row of typewriters just begging to be used.

I started typing away simply to ease the boredom. Mostly, I wrote letters to my best friend Manda, travailing the monotony of detention, something she herself never served. Pretty soon my notes turned into a saga. I chronicled the day’s events with as much humor and drama as possible. I loved watching her face as she read them. She laughed in all the right spots and raised her eyebrows at the pivotal points.

Each day was torture as I now anxiously waited for detention time, to get into that room and type yet another installment for her amusement. Writing it all down served not only to keep myself occupied, but also helped me sort out my feelings and, yes, see the humor in some of the horrible things that happened which, when released to the paper, didn’t seem all that horrible. Last time I talked to my friend and lone reader, she still had all the letters I wrote, though now I can’t remember what any of them were about.

My days of typing my way through detention are way behind me. I’m still writing, and thankfully, no longer writing under the watchful eye of the school’s attendance director. My writing is also read by a much larger audience than one now, though I still document my life’s trials and tribulations because, as it turns out, we all have the same demons to battle. As always, I try to add “as much humor and drama as possible.”

No, I didn’t come by writing by following the traditional path, but I’m a writer all the same. I grudgingly express my gratitude that without all those hours and hours of detention I would have never known what was right there inside me.

Toni Roberts is a freelance writer and humor columnist. She writes a weekly column titled A Room of One’s Own for the Larned, Kansas, Tiller and Toiler. To sign up for her weekly column, read some of her reader’s favorites and view a picture of Cookie, “the Incredibly-Spoiled Chihuahua” go to . Recent published articles include Parenting Today’s Teen, Chalkdust-Online and Ichthyosis Focus. She is also a proud member of the Netwits, an entire group of crazy people just like her, though she still holds the record for most detention hours served.