Every school year the time in the year comes where I have to share. I preach to my students daily about the importance of writing. I am consistantly modeling for students how I do what I tell them to do. And I share my writing. It never gets easier.
Today I stood in front of two class periods and both times my hands shook as I held my own writing in my hands. I fumbled on my own words and grasped for air. I purposefully give them my unedited first draft of a short story and I lay it all out there. So much so that each time I read and share my personal writing I get the inevitable lump in my throat.
I started this semester telling them writing is hard. I mean real true writing is hard. It is like slicing yourself open and letting your guts hang out. Or equal to wearing the bikini for the first time each year. It is all exposed and you wonder what will they think.
And each year I wait to see where the silence goes. One thing always happens. They quiet. They quiet more than they do when I read Dickens, Anderson or Twain. They become enamoured in this idea that their teacher is a writer. And I always start out this lesson with just how much I do write and how the very core of my being is a writer.
Not to encourage them all to go that way, but so that they can see even though I have written I suck at first drafts and I still get nervous. They also see the love and want to know about my writing life. Things like: how long it takes, how do I develop my characters, how did I create that symbol and how did I know to end there.
Do you see those questions? That folks is teaching. That is basic conversation that reading even the best Welty or Twain does not provoke. Instead, it is in my muttered sentences of a character I have long since had. Sophie, the character of me, that I cannot always get out.
The connection though that happens with how easily a story can happen or a poem penned is what I find amazing. They see that I am more than just a licensed teacher and a textbook and a perfected curriculum. I am a real live human writer who wants to be heard, wants to write something amazing and wants to do so easily.
That day was today again. In the end, I am grateful for the vunerability. I realize the more time passes the more I feel the generation divide. Their feelings of "this teacher doesn't get me" weigh heavier and I know just how important it is that see the student me. The one before a degree or two and the one who just loved to write and was just as scared as they are to put it all out.