Sunday, January 17, 2010
Watching People Write
Few things make me as happy as watching people write. I love the bent heads, the scratch of pencils, the occasional whisper of a page turning. The particular silence of people lost in a world of words.
Yesterday was the Writers' Center's "New Year's Resolution: Write," an annual class geared to get kick recalcitrant writers' butts into the new year. We dredged up material, which brought both laughter and tears. We experimented, doing exercises on character, voice, and the ten-minute play. We wrote rough drafts of poems using stories from the news, and wonderfully absurd lists inspired by Sei Shonagon's "Pillow Book." (My favorite was: "Why It Is Terrible to Be the Least Crazy Person in a Mental Hospital.)
It was the kind of day that makes me remember why I love to teach writing. That silence, yes. And, okay, I've got to admit I like a captive audience, too. Hardly anybody in my real life wants to talk about this stuff.
But what I love best is the moment when a tentative aspiring writer surprises herself by writing something wonderful, something she didn't know she knew.