In preparation for National Poetry Month, I began working with the Creative Writing Club today on poetry. Yes, I know that it is more than a month away, but these are high school students who meet once a week.We need some lead time. Today we were freestyling. I let them come up with the prompts (mostly) and just write. Next week we’ll examine and imitate different forms, but for this week, they just wrote. This is what they like to do-scribble down unfinished first drafts. Sometimes I push them to finish and revise, but often I let them just scribble and share. I don’t want to stifle their creativity by making their after school club too much like a class, but I conversely don’t want them to never learn how to finish, to revise, to polish, to never know the joy of a finished piece. (This raises the question of when is a piece finished, but we’ll leave that aside for now.) So I compromise; I mostly let them scribble, but talk with them about finishing and revising frequently and “require” one completed piece each year.
Is it enough? I don’t know, but it works for us right now. Will these girls grow up to be Writers? Probably not. I say they not to disparage their writing: they are imaginative; they are readers; they are developing their facility with language and their understanding of story. Rather, I say that because because becoming a Writer is a long road with many obstacles, detours, and pot holes. The reality of life and the need to make a living –to pay the rent and put food on the table –frequently squelches the teenage fascination with words, with story.
But that doesn’t mean these flights of fancy should not be nurtured. Even if they are short lived, they nourish the soul. We don’t close our eyes to a beautiful sunset because it will be gone in a few minutes. No, instead we drink it in and hold its beauty and peace in our mind’s eye to call upon in our darker moments. So too with writing. The experience teaches us how to express ourselves and how to imagine a better world. This is what I hope for my girls that they grow up into women who have something beautiful and powerful to say.
And thank you, my “followers,” “like-rs,” lurkers for indulging me in my own word addiction.