Herb rewrote the poem. He worked very hard to please that teacher and spell every word correctly and to not reverse any letters. He worked long hours to write two more lines in that poem. The final version which he turned in was:
On a mat,
The teacher was not pleased and berated Herb because he had simply moved the words around to make additional lines. Herb had not written more lines of poetry. She did not recognize Herb’s creative genius in adding two more lines without adding any more words. She again stated that Herb would never be able to write a sentence, let along write a paragraph.
If Herb was not already on the road to a lifetime of failures, this ensured that that is where he was headed.
Herb learned that teachers are not always right, but they never admit to being wrong.
Herb considered different careers where he would not have to write. Among things he considered was being a farmer. But other things kept coming up.
Pastor Diers wanted him to go to seminary, learn Greek and Hebrew, and become a pastor. He felt that he would make a better Old Testament Prophet than a pastor, and the world did not need more Old Testament Prophets spewing doom and gloom.
Within a few years Herb was taking a college-level chemistry class with his mother as the professor. For some reason, chemical formulae and chemistry texts were easier to read than the boring stuff they wanted him to read in the 4th grade.
Herb now knows that if he were back in 4th grade, he could make Mrs. Lyons happy by adding to the poem:
If the cat
Had not ate the rat,
Would have sat
On the mat.
His success in chemistry gave him the courage to follow his dream for a few years, and then he got back to what he learned around the kitchen table from Dr. Mom. In time he started writing down what he had learned and people loved his writing style, even when he wrote a boring book about stucco. His writing style is easy for anyone who wants to write to learn. He sits down, picks out one person for his audience, and talks to that one person. Maybe that is why when people comment on his books they often say, “It seems as if he is sitting in the room with me talking to me.”