I Write To Make Meaning
A while back, I wrote a post called “I Write For Myself.” I’ve been thinking about whether that was completely true or not, and I’ve come to realize that writing is incredibly important to me. I started a blog years ago because I was beginning to connect online and it seemed like the thing to do. As people read and responded to me, though, I realized the connections were important , but my figuring out what I had to say was even more so. I do write for myself, and I write to make meaning. But without an audience, an authentic audience of people who choose to read my writing, I wouldn’t grow nearly as much as I have since I began that blog.
Ruth Ayres, in Celebrating Writers, said, “We write to communicate clearly, to come to new understandings and to connect to others.” I think that pretty much sums it up for me as well. Writers–real writers who understand the craft of writing–know that it is, as Ms. Ayres also says, not about writing for publication but writing for meaning. I write to understand my own thoughts, and when others respond to them, it helps me learn, ponder, think and grow.
Tomorrow I begin a six week writing club after school. I’ll have 6 hours to support these kids who chose to spend some time after school writing. I’ll have 6 hours to (potentially have to) undo the idea of what writing is that they have learned in school. For many kids, there is school writing–the 5 paragraph essay, the writing on command, the writing for the teacher, the writing just to be writing– and then there is
W*r*i*t*i*n*g* tugs at our hearts, it is hard work, it connects us to other people.
W*r*i*t*i*n*g* exhilarates us, it makes us cry, it makes us laugh, it makes us feel human–big and powerful. It also makes us feel small and alone.
W*r*i*t*i*n*g* touches us in ways other things can’t–but only if it is good…and we have to help kids find that thread within themselves that allows them to share those thoughts and feelings–through words– with the world.
We can’t set kids up to think writing happens for the teacher–or for the grade. or worse yet, for the test. Writing comes from within, from a need to get it out–and yes, from a need to be heard.
Tomorrow I begin a six week writing club after school. I’ll have 6 hours to support these kids who chose to spend some time after school writing.
I won’t be using a red pen–we’ll confer to talk about how to change their writing.
I won’t be having them write for me–they’ll have a real audience, and I hope you might be part of it.
I won’t be asking them to write to prompts of my choosing, but I will help them find ideas– theirs, not mine.
I won’t even mention the 5 paragraph essay (except to maybe say ignore that structure as they write), but we will be talking about beginnings and middle and endings.
I will be working to touch their hearts and tug at their empathy strings and help them feel their emotions and learn their thoughts through what they write.
I will be asking them to get to know themselves better and make meaning of themselves and their world.
I will be asking them to respond to each other, to reflect on what they are doing, and to rejoice in what they are learning.
I wil be asking them to write for meaning.