In my earlier post, I touched on what we have called “touchstone moments” in my writing as a teacher course at CSU. These moments were times that had an irrevocable impact on who I am as a writer.
This morning in class we’ve been prompted to consider what the environment was like in these moments. What was the class like?
I think the most consistent things that these moments had in common were freedom to write whatever I wanted, and an environment of support. That support could take different forms but always started with the teacher. The teacher wanted me to write. The teacher wanted all of their students to write, but since I couldn’t feel the kind of support that Cindy Lou-Who was getting, my experience of support was what pushed me to write. In these cases, my audience was predetermined. My teacher (and in the case of ninth grade, Erin as well) was the only one who I knew would read what I had written. And heck, they just had to tell me what was good or bad about it. They couldn’t tell me that what I was writing about was illegitimate.
Why was that important?
Ah, yes. Because I was free writing! This was me expressing myself. In ninth grade I was writing dumb sonnets that reflected my deepest feelings for this girl. In sixth grade I was creating worlds where I might escape when I didn’t want to be surrounded by my peers. In third grade I was experiencing things that were well beyond my capacity as an… eight year old? I don’t know how old I was.
But whatever the case, I was bleeding on the page. Was it Hemingway that said writing was easy? All you have to do is sit down and bleed. That sounds right.
And that feeds the bit about writing whatever I wanted. Sure, sometimes you have to write about things you don’t want to write about. Sometimes that even turns out to be really good writing! But having the freedom to bare my soul to the paper and the teacher, that was liberating.