Last year, my students did an interesting writing assignment in class. They answered a series of questions which helped define them as a writer, called a "Writing Composition."
Reading their responses was FASCINATING. I learned several important things.
One, a lot of my students have a different native language than English. And, oddly enough, they don’t like writing in their native language. They prefer English. Some even admitted that although they can speak and understand their native language, they can’t write in it. They simply do not know how. That really spoke to me.
Two, high school English teachers are a huge influence in a student’s life. One of the questions asks for the students to name someone who influenced their writing, and almost all of my students named high school English teachers.
This is why it is so important for high school English teachers to be good to their students and really work to motivate them. You never know what it’s going to do for a student’s life.
After reading everyone’s responses, I decided I wanted to give these questions a go!
What have been some of the most important writing events in your life? Consider not only formal writing assignments for school or work, but also emails, texts, and posts on social media sites.
Three events really stick out in my mind.
The first one was a short story I wrote for an assignment in my junior English class. I mentioned it in a writing meme recently. It was a totally ripped story with so many problems I don’t know where to begin, but it did one important thing for me – it caught someone’s attention. Specifically my junior English teacher. She loved my writing and actually submitted it to a contest for high school creative writers. It won an honorable mention and I got a little pin out of it which recognized creativity and imagination. I had that pin for years until it finally broke. From then on, I felt like I could actually write good stuff.
The second one was my first “novel.” I wrote this in high school, my senior year, for the first of only two creative writing classes that ever really did anything me. The novel itself is crap, but it proved to me that I could write long pieces and make it coherent. Looking back at it, it wasn’t the worst thing I ever wrote, and it taught me some valuable lessons as I wrote it.
The final event was my Master’s thesis. One hundred and eleven pages of scifi and gothic analysis. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to write and honestly, I’d never do it again. But finishing that allowed me to move forward with my job and get work at other colleges, which allowed me to reach a whole new level of students. I’m eternally grateful for my thesis, despite the difficulties I had writing it.
What are the most common types of writing that you do? What are your purposes for writing, and who reads your writing? What happens as a result of your writing?
Hmm. My most common types are probably fiction, blogging, and stupid witty things on Facebook and Twitter. Generally I write to entertain, however that might be. Blogging and Facebook are usually for humor, but my fiction writing is usually for some other purpose, like drama or important life lessons.
Results. . . vary. Sometimes my witty comments get ignored, sometimes they’re tweeted all over the place. Blogging, so far, has not been very fruitful. Fiction hasn’t been either, but that’s mainly because I only have two books out right now. Though really, I've reached more than I realized. Between White Assassin and The Stolen Guardian, I have almost 400 books circulating, which is pretty dang good.
What languages have you used for writing? Do you enjoy writing in one language more than another, or do you prefer to go back and forth between two languages? Why?
I pretty much write solely in English. . . Unless Zyearthling counts. XD
Who is the most influential in your development as a writer? How did this person influence you?
Three people stick out in my mind.
One, Ms. Bealey (hope I spelled your name right!) who was my senior creative writing teacher. More than anything, Ms. Bealey inspired me to keep writing no matter what. I produced CRAP for her class, but she was so kind about everything I wrote and she really pushed me to work hard and finish things. I don’t remember much of the specifics that we learned in her class, but she did teach me a love of writing creatively and she always encouraged me to create any outlandish thing I wanted to. She never let me limit myself, which is a lesson I still carry today.
Number two is Mr. Olsen, my senior English professor. He was an amazing teacher and he was one of the reasons why I chose to become a teacher myself. I truly believe my academic writing and my teaching style is heavily inspired by his own teaching style. He made English FUN and integrated everything into English, not just writing. Everything he said and did inspired his students to be the very best they could be, and that’s something I hope to do with my own students. Mr. Olsen also said one of the best lines ever. When I told him on the last day of school that I intended to major in English in college, he told me “Oh my gosh, you’re going to major in nerdism!” Yes. Yes, I am.
The final person who has inspired me is Kessie Carroll. Not only has she put out some amazing books, she’s also done that all while raising a big family! She finds time to write no matter what and has a wonderful imagination in her writing. My creative writing classes taught me very little in the way of craft, but Kessie taught me everything. When she read the first draft of my first book, her first words were “Get rid of the first eleven pages, they’re crap” which pretty much set the tone for our editing relationship. XD She’s got a hilarious sarcastic streak in her editing style, but all the things she’s given me has drastically improved my writing. She’s also bombarded me with books and blog posts to help me improve. I’d never be where I am today if she hadn’t given me that first honest crit. She also introduced me to the wonders of National Novel Writing Month, which helped me pump out my first draft. I owe a lot to her as a writer. =)
Can you recall any time when you felt inadequate as a writer? What was the event? Why did you feel this way? What changes did you make as a result?
I pretty much feel inadequate as a writer every time I start a brand new story, especially if I’ve been polishing a final draft of a different story right before I started the new one. Starting a new story is extremely difficult. You have to allow yourself to write crap. And that’s not always easy, especially since I KNOW I can write better. I want to spend all my time editing what I have rather than actually writing NEW stuff. But I think a lot of authors go through that.
What are three words that best describe you as a writer?
Um… Probably passion, creativity, and procrastinator. I love every aspect of writing and I’m very passionate about it. I’m also a big fan of creative writing and I feel like creative writing can do a lot for people. Finally. . . I am a huge procrastinator and tend to take forever to finish a project. But I sure as hell have fun doing it!
What do you guys think about writing? Are you as passionate about it as I am? I challenge you to answers these questions yourself and get a nice picture of yourself as a writer!