Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pops Off The Page.

As an English teacher, I see a lot of student work. Not just writing, but work from other subject areas that tend to be displayed around the school - especially work from the creative fields.

I see their artwork, sculptures, photography, design items, dressmaking and sometimes their cooking. I see (and hear)  their musical and dramatic performances, and even hear their (often faltering and occasionally  amusing) attempts in German.

Last week I visited a gallery of students' photography. I was impressed by a number of pieces, but as I left I realised there were a couple of photos that stood out way above the rest. Photos that very obiously had a certain something. Not just good, but artistic. The difference between a person who takes photos and an artist. And this is something I see in my students' writing all the time. One or two pieces of writing that 'pops off the page'. The narrative may be immature, the grammar or spelling weak,  but I can see something there that draws me in.

I see it in other writers' work as well. And I see some writers who can barely string a sentence together.

Why are we so unaware of our own abilities? I know I waver (and sometimes swing wildly) between thinking I can write and then (usually after reading someone else's brilliant work) thinking my words are illiterate ramblings.

Maybe this is why, as writers, we need external endorsement and validation. Awards nominations, sales, a kind and encouraging word from a peer (or better yet from someone we look up to), and even positive feedback in a rejection slip.

I have some idea of my strengths in my writing. I'm also developing a discernment, an understanding of areas in which I need to develop. And I continue to work at improving all areas of my fiction.

And it is improving. I have external benchmarks that assure me of this. If only I had more time to write more frequently.

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