I have a dream. To publish a literary e-zine that celebrates the writing of composition teachers.
The one thing that has helped me most to become an effective composition teacher, besides twenty-seven years of teaching English composition of course, is writing and pursuing publication of my work. Such a process has certainly kept me humble (I quit counting when my rejections reached over two hundred.) and has never made me rich. However, a couple of years, I did make enough to be taxed. (Of course, that isn’t saying much, is it?)
On the other hand, with over two dozen short stories published in print and online publications, as well as over a hundred theater reviews and features for the local paper, five years as columnist for my college, two or three years as an arts columnist, and now approaching the production of my second full-length play, my writing avocation has also boosted my confidence as a writing instructor and given me a certain credibility with my students, some of my students.
Above all, being a writer keeps me mindful of what it’s like to write for a critical audience–a critique group member, an editor, an agent, an audience.
Because I’m a writer, I am reminded of what it’s like
- to procrastinate.
- to spend more time revising and editing than composing
- to be uninterested, or lose interest, in a project
- to be obligated to complete said project
- to have a work criticized or rejected
- to take that criticism or rejection as a personal attack
- to be misunderstood
But it’s not all bad. Because I am a writer, I can truthfully inform my students that good writing, while hard, and often thankless, work is
- a valuable skill
- a confidence builder
- actually can be fun
- and sometimes, every now and then, absolutely glorious!
So, the dream is to have this little online publication called Teach. Write. that will allow present and former composition teachers of all types to try their hands at writing out of their comfort zone, to make themselves vulnerable again to constructive criticism and rejection, to boost their confidence and support their colleagues–to write, and in so doing, become better teachers, better people.
The e-zine will be for writing teachers by writing teachers, specifically, but because the style and subject of essays, poetry and short stories will be open for the most part, the magazine should appeal to a general audience.
Although I will consider pieces that are on the subject of writing if they are unusual and compelling, I’m not particularly looking for work that is about writing or being a writing teacher. As I mentioned, this magazine is calling for teachers to move out of their comfort zones, so I would rather they write a literary short story or a flash piece, a sonnet or poem in blank verse, an essay about a night spent in jail–whatever they want to say. These will be the general submissions.
Because I want this e-zine to be useful to writing teachers, I also will have a regular feature called “Writing Your Own.” In this feature I will call for composition teachers to write pieces based on their own writing prompts. For example, the fantasy e-zine, Mirror Dance, published a flash piece called “Waiting for Beowulf” that I had written as an example for a creative writing assignment in my British literature I online class. It is so helpful for instructors to write with their students–it can also be simply fun, yielding strong writing from students and publishable work from teachers.
I have set December 1 as the deadline for setting up the website. At that time, I will begin accepting essays and short fiction of 2,500 words or less, poetry of 100 lines or less (up to three poems accepted in one document), ten-minute stage and screenplays (ten pages), and pieces for the “Writing Your Own” feature (250-2,500 words).
All teacher-writers should include a short (100 words or less) biographical statement, which includes their present or past position as an English composition teacher. This statement is more important to me than publication credits. Of course, elementary and middle school language arts teachers, high school and college-level English teachers can submit, but if they have taught independently for business and industry or as part of a continuing education program, they are also eligible. If they have tutored in English composition professionally or as a volunteer, they may feel free to submit. They should simply mention composition teaching experience in the bio..
From December 1 to June 30, I will accept submissions for the inaugural edition, which I hope to publish in the fall. My desire is to begin publishing twice a year, fall and spring, hoping that contributers who are working teachers can write and submit in the summer and winter, then enjoy, along with their students, their published work in the fall and spring.
I believe it is important to pay writers, but I don’t have much money, so I will be offering only a small honorarium here at the beginning of my venture, hoping that in the future I can offer more. I will let writers know the amount in December.
If anyone is interested in submitting work to Teach. Write., start writing and look for an announcement on Hey, Mrs. Winkler with a link to Teach. Write.
I have had this dream for a long time, but as it is has been with most of my dreams, they only happen when I find the time to do them and set to work. The time is now.