William Alton, OR

Senior Writer

Bill is a writer and an artist, a teacher and student. He trained as a poet, and loves the stories that make up the world. Bill started writing when he was young. As he grew older, he found a certain joy in moving people to see things they might have missed the first time. Bill works for Forest Grove School District as a Skills Trainer in a Special Education program. He spends a lot of time working with his students, teaching and learning alternate methods of communication.

As a Story Terrace writer, Bill interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know him better by reading his autobiographical anecdote below.


I was fourteen and had only recently discovered that girls were endlessly fascinating. There was a girl named Paula in my class. She was small and dainty. Her face was narrow and foxy and I couldn’t, for the life of me, stop staring at her.

I was terrified. I wanted desperately to be in love but Paula was one of the popular kids. Boys fluttered around her like flames dancing on the edges of a fire. They knew how to make her laugh. They knew how to bring her in. Envy and fear combined to turn me to water.

After months of agony, I took the plunge. My father, a charming man, a salesman, told me that women loved poetry. “That’s how I got your mother’s attention,” he said.

I was fourteen, so I suspected my father of being completely out of touch, but I was young enough to take his advice.

For two weeks, I worked on the poem. I found rhymes and I found words. I pieced them together like a promise or a prayer maybe. I worked hard and I sweated and then it was done. Still, I was scared. What if it didn’t work? What if she laughed?

The day came. I woke and told myself I would do it. I went to school and I sat in the cafeteria watching Paula. I went to class and Paula was there and I stared some more and then it was lunch time. Paula sat with the football boys at a table in the corner. I went to her. Sweat ran in thick streams along my spine. My hands shook. The room blurred out and I could barely breathe.

The original plan was to stand on a table and exclaim the poem from the top of my lungs, but something happened to me. My body was no longer my own. Instead of the grand romantic gesture I stumbled up to her and thrust the poem in her face.
“Bill,” Paula said.

She knew my name!

“Read this,” I said. “Please.”

I walked away. I went to my table across the room and put my head down. Everything spun and danced and I felt like I was going to pass out. I sat there trying hard to breathe like a normal boy when Paula came to me.

“Bill,” she said. “This is beautiful.”

I swallowed and nodded, not trusting my mouth to say the right thing.

“No one’s every written a poem for me before,” she said.

This was going better than I thought. A bit of the fear dissipated. My hands, still numb, no longer felt like they were going to fall off. She smiled.

“Do you think you could write another?” she asked.

Get in touch today to work with Bill!