For this trimester’s activity period I am leading a fiction writing workshop. Five girls, one boy, and one teacher are joining me in time to write every week. We’ve decided that I will bring writing prompts, but if people are inspired to write something else, that’s okay, too. “That’s okay, that’ll work, whatever you need,” is sort of the unofficial motto of the group. Unofficial in the sense that I just made it up right now, but I promise you, it’s accurate.
Today because it was gorgeous, we wrote outside (where I was attacked by a spider and its web, but that’s another story), and I prepared two possible sunny day writing prompts.
1. Start with this line I/He/She was sitting outside in her hammock, sipping on a lemonade when the strangest thing happened.
2. Almost everybody loves a sunny day, but there are some who prefer rainy, overcast days. Who are those people and what do they have against the sun. (Adapted from writingforward.com by Melissa Donovan)
The first brought on a fantastically imaginative piece by one girl, which she accurately labeled “satirically morbid” and included a drawing.
I chose to start with the second and here’s what I wrote, completely unedited:
For a graduate class I am taking, we need to describe our vision of the ideal future of writing. Here’s mine:
“Writing will survive, but it will survive in a debased form. It will lose its richness. We will no longer read and write words. We will merely process them, the way our computers do.” Nicholas Carr, writing in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica Blog. The culprit: technology.
As for me, while I see the potential pitfalls of technology, the changes I am seeing are all positive. In fact, I believe that advances in technology will make more people writers and will allow those writers to share their work with an ever-increasing audience. Students will enjoy writing, and will do it on their own time because it allows them to connect within and without their community. Most importantly, students will be empowered by writing.
Writing has always provided a way for us to connect to others. Technology is allowing that reach to go farther and to more people. Sometimes people say that a drawback of online communities is that people will write things they never would “in real life”. This can also be a positive. Recently I told an English teacher, Tim Gillis, about the Parent-Teacher-Student journals described in Engaging Parents Beyond the Back to School Night. He decided to add a parental component and asked students to interview their parents about whether or not they had ever read Moby Dick, the class text. Some parents talked about how they had never read it, but remembered other books they read. Some liked what they had read in high school, others didn’t. Graham’s father took over the computer and wrote a very poignant response. You can see all the responses at his blog, Moby Tweet.