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Friday, May 6, 2011

I Like Writing

I like to write. I found that I enjoyed writing early in high school. Some of my classmates developed an affection for math, science class, or history, but I found myself most comfortable in English class. I had many very special English teachers, but I remember one in particular who had our class write poems.

I wrote a poem in a bad, mock-Poe style that featured a creepy castle populated by lepers. My high school teacher loved the work and sent it to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Enquirer printed it in a Sunday section. The teacher shared the poem and the newspaper story with my class, and I became an unsuspecting student poet laureate. Of course, after that, I gained the "Edgar" nickname. My classmates had a lot of fun with that moniker. Thank goodness the celebrity lasted only a few weeks. After all, I was a football and baseball player at the time.

I say that in jest because I do realize the wonderful attention my teacher paid to my poem was extraordinary and extremely considerate. Her compliments became very significant to my professional development and to my decision to major in English education. Later, when I became an English teacher, I tried to praise my writing students whenever possible. Compliments are important, welcomed snacks for those in the midst of instruction.

Writing is a solitary act that most often entails a public consequence. It is usually meant to be shared, to be digested, and to be critiqued. It represents a paper performance as it passes from the writer to the audience. This act of sharing writing is very important to writers because through their audience they find approval. Whether that approval is minuscule or thunderous depends upon many factors.

Writers know they must develop authentic voice and be true both to their inner self and to the situations presented in their outer reality. When writers push style over substance, their work falls short because it is full of deceit. The audience wants genuine work in a writer's own word choice, accurate and detailed factual representation, and personal point of view. To distort perceptions of a subject insures a mistrusting audience. Likewise, to ignore the audience altogether is synonymous to shouting into a void. Even when writers want to express the most divisive opinion, they still have important audience considerations.

I found out in high school that people like me who enjoy writing need feedback. The responses others offer serve as great constructive criticism but also as memos from an audience that says "We like it but write some more about it." That is really all any writer can ask -- any response, whether positive or negative, legitimizes the work.

Some days I blog and throw words on a page that scatter like jacks tossed from a fist. They hit the page with little collective force and remain there in a formless botch. Other days I think my paragraphed posts are guided Tomahawk missiles. As I launch them at specific targets, I am so sure they will produce desired explosions of acceptance. How often I am wrong. Many of these posts do not strike the target. But, the need I feel to communicate doesn't waver because of a series of duds. I know the audience has specific needs that I may be able to address in truth tomorrow.

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