When I was teaching seventh grade and also going to night school for my masters degree, one synchronistic day I taught a lesson on writing dialogue to my twelve-year-olds only to show up at my evening class—to a lesson on dialogue. Of course I told the kids the next day. The lovely (and ironic part) of practicing any art is that you’re never done. Every facet of the literary craft has infinite depth. I’ll be learning how to write dialogue for the rest of my life. (more…)
Hidden deep within the writing process is a powerful tool for social change.
I know; that statement can’t be substantiated. But let’s try on the idea for a moment.
If you’ve ever penned your thoughts or memories or imaginings, you know that the writing process surprises you. Writers say they write to find out what they think. The process of writing is revelatory. We see differently for having written. This is “re-vision”, even if you’re just writing a journal or first draft. (more…)
If my underwear ever had holes in it or the elastic stretched out or the fabric was stained, my mother would say, “What if you had some accident and wound up in the hospital? What would people think?”
So absurd! Who in any emergency would really care?
But because of this conditioning or my natural proclivity (I remember dancing ballet on a low tiled coffee table within sight of our open front door as a kid, hoping someone would drive by, be awed, and whisk me off to join the New York City Ballet) or because this is an ordinary human tendency, I arrived in adulthood with my attention well-honed toward others’ attention. It especially has haunted my writing, where awareness of an audience can invade even the most private journal pages. I’m as good as the next writer at leaping from rough draft to imagined New York Times review fame, or for that matter obscure distain. Dealing with my thoughts about what others will think is an ongoing, daily artistic struggle. (more…)
For years I’ve preached Robert Frost’s advice, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” as my writing gospel, so last month I was taken aback in the middle of a class when I realized yet another marvelous dimension of this philosophy: If genuine, open-hearted engagement (that is, the willingness to be surprised) is the basic ingredient of the creative process, then we all, each and every one of us ordinary people who write, have the capacity to move a reader.