“Stories aren’t peaceful things. Stories don’t care how shy you are. They don’t care how insecure you are, either. Stories find their way out eventually. All you gotta do is turn ’em loose.”
–A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
I am afraid of writing. No, I am terrified of writing. I’d rather train for a half-marathon (and we all know how I feel about running) than commit myself fully to writing. Promising to write is like promising to cut yourself open to show your internal organs to the people you love most, but instead doing so through the harsh contrast of black branding on a bright, white screen. But that’s not what I’m afraid of, actually. To be completely honest, I am afraid of what the collection of little straight and curved lines will come to say about me. I’m afraid that if I try to make those minuscule shapes mean something, they’ll just fizzle out and flatten, meaningless on the page. I fear that I will reach for the good words (you know, the ones that twinkle and float across the page like a famous name on a marquee) only to find that I am a mere inches away, only able to grasp the faded, dingy words of cliches and classifieds.
But how am I supposed to encourage my students allow themselves to really write when I am too afraid to put my story down in ink? How can I push them to take that leap of faith when I am still standing with my toes curled around the edge of the diving board like a small child, caught between the deep blue water of uncertainty and the ladder of admitting defeat? So, here is my promise to my future students: lets learn to fail together. Who knows; maybe those dim words are actually old glimmering ones just waiting to be dusted off and brought back to life.
Special thanks to Holly Mueller, an amazing teacher who inspired my by giving me the advice that, “not only do you have to be a voracious reader, you have to treat your own writing the same way” and who also sent me a copy of the book A Snicker of Magic so I could participate in the author Q&A with her students. The gift of a book is the gift of a whole other world to live in, something I believe to be truly special.