I have been a teacher and a writer most of my life. The yearning to do both has long been in me. Of course, this yearning is not unique. Most writing teachers are writers, but many of them, including this one, become more teacher than writer, or worse, quit writing altogether. The reasons for not writing are myriad:
First of all, so much editing of other people’s writing makes us loathe to edit our own writing. At the end of a long day grading papers, the last thing many of us want to do is work on our own writing, and if we start working on a piece of our own before grading, we get so caught up in it that we often neglect our grading and have to work harder on that and neglect our writing and so the cycle continues.
Time. Time. Time. Too little of it is the reason most of us give for not writing. “I’m just too busy to work on my own writing,” we say–as if our own writing should be an afterthought. But I say, writing for publication should be a top priority for every composition teacher at every educational level for this reason: doing so reminds us of what a struggle good writing is–to find an idea, narrow it down, compose, revise, edit, proofread, and most of all, become vulnerable to criticism.
I have said many times–the best professional development I ever did as a composition instructor, and a writer, is to write theater reviews for the local paper and to consistently pursue publication of my fictional works. Whenever I turned in copy to my editor, I knew the work would be scrutinized, not only by her, but ultimately by the public, many of whom are not shy at all about pointing out inaccuracies, grammatical errors and even typos.
Sending out my fiction means I am asking, most likely, to be rejected, rarely with any helpful feedback, if any at all.But I keep putting my babies out there because that’s what writers do. And because I want my students to become writers–no matter what their profession may become.
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I look forward to reading your work