We are one week in, and I am already blown away.
I'm a teacher. This year, for the first time, I am teaching a creative writing class. There is no text book, no sylabus, no guidelines. I'm starting from scratch.
I figured my first challenge would be to find a way for my students to simply get something on paper. Anything on paper.
I was wrong. The dove right in.
On the very first day, I assured the students that everyone has a story. I wasn't sure if I believed it myself, but I wanted them to believe it. They did. In fact, they convinced me. Already. And we are only one week in.
Each teenager captured a story and poured it out on the paper along with little pieces of their souls. Beautiful.
This class landed in my lap because I was the only one on staff who wanted to teach it. (Well, that and the fact that I begged for it.) Other teachers commented on how they can't stand teaching creative writing because they have to wade through so many bad stories.
We are one week in. So far, no one has written a bad story. I've seen plenty of grammar errors and comma splices and uncapitalized names, but not one bad story. What I've seen instead is natural comedic timing, raw emotion, real tears, and full characters. It scares me and here's why. We have yet to actually talk about how to write a story. They don't really know what they are doing. They are just writing.
Believe me, I'm not claiming to have a classroom full of natural-born Hemmingways. There is a lot of work to be done. What I am saying is that these kids, when left to imagine and create, come up with real, raw stuff. I'm afraid of what will happen when we start applying the confines of proper exposition and character arc and dialogue tags and all that. I'm terrified that I'll douse their passions and silence their voices.
We are one week in and I've already learned that real and raw is better than formulaic and contrived. That, when it comes to writing, following your heart beats following the rules. That when you try to hard to sound like a writer, you aren't really writing at all. You are just trying to sound like one.
It seems the first lesson was for me. It also seems that I've got a lot to learn.
Dee Linn loves words. When she was in the third grade, her exasperated teacher told her she'd probably talk to a pole, if she happen to be sitting beside it. Not much has changed except that now she says it in writing. She is a single mom of four, a teacher of teens, a cheater at board games, and a lover of life. She's a Kansas girl, but travels to all kinds of places in her head with characters living there, some of which she's sure she's created. Some, she's not sure how they got there. But they are way more interesting to talk to than a pole.