Back in the earliest days of my college career, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I also knew I never wanted to be a creative writing teacher: Don’t get me wrong, creative writing is one of my passions, but by that time I’d spent years participating in online writers communities, reading others’ stories and providing very detailed feedback.
And, if I may, I was damn good at it. People I’d never met before knew my name because of the quality constructive criticism I gave, and sometimes writers would ask me out of the blue to read their rough drafts or proofread their final copies. I was even invited to judge not one but two different short story competitions!
So why didn’t I want to become a creative writing teacher? And now that I’ve finished teaching a four-week creative writing elective, why will I never teach it again?
So it’s been a while since I’ve posted–first I got sidetracked when I was told my thesis was due earlier than anticipated (by a month! but don’t worry, I finished it–and passed my defense), and then I had to catch up on homework, and then I’ve been attending a YOGA for Youth teacher training and it’s been busy (forty hours? two weekends? check!).
Excuses, excuses, of course, but it’s my way of saying if I could have been here, sharing ideas and experiences with all of you, I would have been. =)
I’m still in a frenzied state, of course, attempting to stay on top of everything as graduation and Teach for America barrel toward me, but I want to take a quick moment to share something with you–call it my three-day-early throwback Thursday.
Today officially began my semester. I woke up before the sun (but not as early as yesterday) and trudged out to my first course. I left earlier than I actually had to and therefore was almost an hour early.
I took my seat casually, somewhat thankful I wasn’t the first one there. I withdrew my iPad to fiddle with for a bit, eager to distract myself, yet still eager for classes to begin.
Had I known what the day would bring, I’d have felt differently.
Some days ago, amid all this hubbub over Chick-Fil-A, I came across a short but sweet post written by blogger Gwynn Compton asking, “What helps you write?” I thought it would make for a brilliant distraction form my typical Tuesday talks–because, without any inspiration to write, there’s no amount of writing advice that’ll help your words shine.
So with a great letter of thanks to Gwynn, here’s what helps me write–a few items that may in turn help you to write, too.
You liked it. I loved it. And here I’m giving it to you again.
This time around, I’ll be highlighting the beginnings of three more of my stories, providing commentary about why they were good, and why they weren’t as good as they could have been. I won’t go too much into the types of beginnings there are or the processes used to get there–you can read back a few posts in my “Writing” category for all that–so this time around, it’s all pro-tip facts and critical fiction.
Transitions are tough. Just look at me–I’m moving from one college to another, I’m living out of the house for the first time ever, and I’m actually (yes, it’s true!) starting to drive on actual roads. It’s a lot to handle. A lot to sort through and make sense of. In this melting pot of emotions, I somehow have to sort through all of these new feelings and figure out what they are–am I excited? Nervous? Some mix of the two? It’s not always easy to tell. Am I busy because I genuinely need to be, or am I just distracting myself?
Those questions plague a lot of us during times of transition, but do you ask those questions when you edit your story’s beginning? “But it’s the beginning,” you cry, “not a transition!” And that’s where you’re mistaken–the beginning is a transition: It’s the point where the reader transitions into a new world.
If you think moving on campus is a transition, how would you feel about moving into another world altogether?
When I last left you, I was studying point of view–and our focus, if I recall correctly, was on the different points of view: first person, second person, and third person. The ocean became a character through three different lenses, and although certain strains of existence persisted through each of them, each was wholly unique.
This week I would normally proceed with the second exercise in “Method and Madness,” but I don’t like it. Take a topic that’s difficult to write about, it says, and use point of view as a way of breaking the surface–first write it as a personal account, then as an omniscient narration. It’s not a bad exercise, but I don’t think it teaches very much after the last lesson. We already know how changing person can change perspective–why repeat it again?
Instead, let’s look about how perspective can change a person.
Last week I wrapped up the chapter on show and tell–now I have a better feel for showing, telling, and being aware of when I know something that doesn’t quite make it to the reader. This next chapter covers the oft-feared topic of points of view.
It’s not just the way you see the story–it’s who’s telling it.
It’s all so simple in theory: Take an idea and put it on paper. Or jazz it up a bit and put it into pixels. The computer screen has never been so well read. Yet in practice it’s much harder. These ideas don’t come to me as a collection of words–that transcription happens later. In fact, oftentimes, when ideas are their freshest, words only get in the way.
Have I ever told you I never wanted to be a writer?