I’m loving teaching the creative writing classes down at the Writers’ Center of Indianapolis. A few weeks ago I did the kick off Introduction to Speculative Fiction class that focused on what makes up fantasy, science fiction, and horror, the state of the markets, and the business of writing. Now doing four weeks on various aspects of “preparing to write” (Brainstorming, Character/Dialogue, World Building, and Plotting). By the way, walk ins are welcome. It helps that I have a really good group of folks that I’m working with. The preparation for the classes forced me to sit down and think about process a lot (READ: even though this isn’t a writing blog, per se, expect plenty of blog fodder from it).
Going with the teaching thing, I’ve been going down to Outreach Inc once a month to do mini-workshops on creative writing. I love those kids (I’d say they’re too old to be called kids, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that somewhere between last year and today, I got old. Come on, anyone humming “welcome back, welcome back, welcome back” after reading the title to this blog can feel me). It’s a pure joy to engage their world, hear their voices as they tell their stories and express themselves.
And while I haven’t been doing as much subbing this semester, I still have been going into my sons’ classes as a writer cheerleader. (This, by the way is what Second Story does as an organization, which is why I love that organization so much).
My big take home lesson: kids love to write. I can’t walk into my son’s class without one of them (READ: a half dozen of them) shoving their latest ten pages of story into my hands. And these kids write well (especially compared to what I was producing at their age). A lot of the times, schools kill the joy of writing with creative writing given the short thrift and other art programs slashed. I’m not blaming the teachers. They’re hamstrung having to teach to IStep or iRead or the latest metric that supposedly measures learning and don’t get to actually … teach. Some of the teachers don’t feel like good writers themselves and thus don’t feel qualified to judge or critique it. I think one of the brilliant things my oldest son’s teacher has done has simply carved out time for the kids to write.
And the kids in my sons’ classes challenge me too. They want to read my stuff. While I can show them the covers to the Knights of Breton Court series, they are going to have to wait a few years to become consumers of mine. (There was an incident involving my sons taking some of my author copies to school). So I’m working on a few things I can take into schools now. Plus, after staring down a room full of fifth graders, any other public speaking doesn’t seem nearly as scary.