Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So Many Ideas, But Only A Single Lifetime To Bring Them To Narration Within The Limitations Of The Human Brain

Yesterday, after a morning of, perhaps, too much direct instruction, Ali and Ellen came to me and said, "We need to get the young writers out of their seats and into the conversation of possibilities."

It was after lunch, and knowing writer Sonya Huber was going to visit, I agreed with their assessment completely.

Writers need time to talk and I've become a fan this summer of the balloon as a metaphor. A writer, like a balloon, needs to be colorful. They need to stretch their ideas through dialogue with other writers, and then breathe life into them. There's much to be said about flexibility, but also tying a knot into our ideas. And once complete, the ideas need to be bounced around.

Ali and Ellen thought it would be smart - and it was - to throw out single words and to get the students talking about the stories that pop into their mind. This worked marvelously as each youth participant had many 'tales' to tell in association with the words. Eventually, the balloons moved to the side and the young writers were just talking. The conversations were natural and lively.

This was a wonderful set-up for Sonya Huber's conversation about 'weird' stories and crafting narration from the littlest things that matter most in our lives. My personal notebook began with a list initiated by Huber of five things. Hearing the others, though, it moved to 25 things. Then, followed with a free-association exercise, another 25 items were added. I realized I have so many things to write about, but too little time to write about any of them. (Alas, it's all good...there will be a day for eternal composing)

Even tonight, brain-dead, I realized I simply need a space to compose. After the workshop, Sonya and I talked about this and the tension of being a teacher 'with the semblance of control in the classroom' and the solitude needed to actually bring our ideas to life. One of the biggest secrets of successful writers is they know how to be anti-social (my Achilles heal is that I'm King Lear's Fool always needing to be on staged having my way with wit in front of others).

My point - this writing thing is always much more complex than it seems. Yet, what a joyous way to spend my time on earth while I have it. We who teach are in a perpetual arena of stirring a pot of potential stories to tell. I can't imagine working in any field where this wasn't possible. I think I've landed exactly where I was meant to be.

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