I am now a huge fan of the DIYMFA program by Gabriela Peirara. Her program is a store house of writing how-to’s and podcasts. I recently joined up for her Writing Igniter Summit of Awesome where she sent out special podcasts of interviews of her with some interesting writers and teachers of writers.
Yesterday, I listened to her interview with the book editor, Jennie Nash. There were two big take-aways from this podcast. First, when Jennie works with people on their books, she works to develop their writer ‘presence’. She asks them about how they see themselves interacting with the world after they put their book or whatever writing out into the world. This was very impactful for me as a writer and a teacher of writing. How you want your readers to perceive you and the message you want to send makes you more dedicated to your work and clarifies who you are as a writer and, essentially, a person. I often approach my writing outside of school as a hobby and therapy, but, when this question was posed in the podcast, it really started to make think about my readers and how do I want to interact with them. Wouldn’t this be amazing if our students had this same experience? By molding their writing territory they are potentially molding themselves. Who do they want to be in the world? What message do they want to send out? This also goes hand-in-hand with reading. Students could argue that they are already presenting themselves to the world through twitter, instagram, reddit, and all the other platforms. How does this translate into the writing we ask them to do?
The second important point from the podcast was a discussion Gabriela and Jennie had about the cost of creativity. Isn’t it interesting how the arts are considered a past time and hobby? Based on this perspective, those pursuing a career in the arts are not compensated with a livable income or health insurance. And yet, the importance of creativity cannot be understated. Like the quotation from Willie Nelson presented in today’s SOL, creativity is what keeps us alive. Not only does it allow us to express our feelings or crazy ideas, it also connects us to each other. We are connected when we read a story or poem, watch a play or any show, or listen to music and we can pinpoint the emotion and say, “That’s exactly how I feel.” If we taught our students that creative writing was just as important as the other standard based writing we teach; we would probably have more motivated writers in our classrooms connecting with each other and the rest of the world. Through their own creative writing they could determine what is important to them and who their tribe is. We would also be building a culture of writers and readers who understand that writing is just as important as business or any discipline where you can get a good paying job. Creative people need to be compensated fairly for their work.
The world needs more creativity. Creativity leads the mind to imagine what a world can be. The creative people show how this new world can be built and model it for us in their work. If you know someone who is creative in your life, encourage them, do not tell them it is a waste of time and do something else. Support the arts any way you can. Join a museum, get a subscription to a newspaper, donate to your local arts groups, volunteer at art events. Open your heart, seek creativity, and be alive.