Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A World Inside My Head


The other day one of my students (we’ll call her Izzy), whose love of writing I have been nurturing all year, raised her hand, shaking it in the air like a pompom, and waited with eyes wide and brow furrowed impatiently. When I walked over to her desk to find out what was the matter, she flashed a broad, excited smile and said, “Ms. Salazar, I have a world inside my head”.  I paused for a moment to savor my triumph, smiled back and said, “Me too!”

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a motley crew of characters living in my imagination.  I’m not talking A Beautiful Mind here.  I can’t see them and they can’ talk to me, but I can immerse myself in their world, research the details of their lives, build their houses, and write their stories.

The trouble is, sitting down to select and arrange words in such a way that a reader feels the texture of a characters’ emotions and understands the deeper meaning of an offhand remark the way that I feel and understand them, is hard.  Of course, writing is a craft that can be honed through study and practice, but at the end of the day you, the writer, are still faced with a blank page to fill.  I can’t be the only writer with the cleanest laundry on the block. 

Even after there is no more laundry and the rough draft is written, there are revisions to make, query letters to write, submission guidelines to follow and rejections to face.  The process can be very discouraging and it can be very difficult to hold on to an Izzy-like passion for the world inside your head. 

I have been lucky enough to find a community of writers who provide encouragement and keep me accountable.  I have to write or revise something in time for the next contest or the next critique.  They also provide perspective.  To be a published writer always seemed like a distant, glamorous thing that other people did, but in the past year or so I have met dozens of successful, published writers who are just like me.

Izzy is at the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful journey.   I hope that, after she leaves my classroom, she finds a community that supports and encourages her creativity and her dream to become an author.  I know that the journey is worthwile.