Of my two students, one was reluctant to take the class and didn't even think she could write. She cited an inability to sort thoughts out in her head and a lacking discipline to get whatever thoughts she had down on paper. She did, however, manage to bring in her samples every week and get into what we were doing so, perhaps, there is a writer within her. The other girl listened well, took down all sorts of notes but was, rightfully, diligent in getting all of her school work completed and that took away from some of the time she had to write her samples.
I'm happy with how things turned out. Both of these girls gave full effort during the time they were in class (a couple of weeks they showed up thirty minutes late though) but they did seem to enjoy our discussions on writing elements and listening to each other's story ideas and passages. Funnily, as reluctant as they were to join, I have a feeling (a hope, maybe) that they might pursue writing on their own. Even though the workshop ended today, I told them that if they are going to work on their stories (one is about a college-bound girl who is trying to get through her bucket list after finding out that she has cancer and the other is about a family who had everything but lost it all after the father dies) that I would be willing and available to them for reading, input and so on.
Seeing these two students grow in confidence, while still developing, they both show promise as writers. One of them has shown a natural knack for it and already seems to have her own voice. Her tension about the whole 'writing thing' seemed to disappear after week three. I'd given them an in-class writing exercise on character to which one of them asked how long it had to be. I gave them a ballpark; a few paragraphs or something like that. The same girl wanted a specific number of words and paragraphs. Yes, she wanted both. I told her it didn't matter, really, since this was an exercise and to just go with the flow. The other one reminded me that they're eighth graders and for that many years they've only be told to write for a certain number of words and paragraphs and that they weren't used to this "free willy doodoo." Those were her actual words.
I smiled and immediately removed my teacher ID card. I nodded and said, "Okay. Well, with creative writing you can free willy doodoo. Let go and just write. This isn't a test and I'm not grading this. Just write." I also said that for the hour of creative writing they didn't have to call me Mr. Bas and that they could call me by my first name. Well, allowing them this freedom appears to have helped.
In today's class I told them to write a scene that personifies an inanimate object but without telling the reader what it is. They did that and, more than that, they gave their objects character and will, a soul and meaning. As can be expected, this was their best work - one should get better the more he or she does it, right? - and I hope they don't give up on writing. I told them that they're showing progress and signs of developing their own writing style. The girl who was the most reluctant to join - Miss Free Willy Doodoo - said she would. Whether she actually does, only time will tell.
I just hope I've been able to share something cool with them. Well, I think writing is cool and I know the writers of you who are reading this blog, and the readers too, think it is. Perhaps the door for two more members of our great community of writers has opened. I hope, too, that they see writing as being something cool in the way they see whatever it is teenagers today view as cool; things like skinny jeans, jeggings, Lady GaGa, perhaps?
When I was younger I didn't have this opportunity - a free class that encouraged me to write and not just in a school assignment sort of way - but I always liked to write. Who knows? If I had something like this when I was their age, maybe I'd have gotten into writing a novel and publishing it sooner in life. If one of them really gets into writing and publishes her own work, perhaps, she'll pay it forward and share the wonderful world of writing with those younger than her.
Who knows? One can only hope, right?
So, when did you start to write? What inspired you and when did you realise writing was something that moved you? Do share.