An English teacher at our county high school pulled together nine writers from the county. Three of us are fiction writers, one writes memoirs, two are bloggers, one is a journalist, and two are songwriters. We each had a table in an open area at one end of the school library. Each period a different English class came in, spent a few minutes down at the other end of the library thinking up questions for us, then the students walked around and talked to each of us. At the end of each period, the songwriters sang one or two of their songs. As I was hurrying that morning to get myself ready for the forty minute drive to the school, I have to admit I was wishing I hadn’t committed to it. By the end of the first period, I was really glad I had.
Kids today have so many distractions that we didn’t have when I was in high school. The internet, texting, 24-hour television on too many channels to count—you’d think books and writing would be way down on their lists of favorite things to do. Yet many of the students said they loved to read and more than a few loved to write. Sure, there were others who admitted they didn’t enjoy reading or writing, but I’d say the breakdown was about the same as it would have been in one of my high school English classes back in the early sixties when TV was still in black and white. It seems lovers of books are born that way. I wonder if there were cave men and women who couldn’t get enough of the scratches on cave walls—and others who couldn’t get enough of making those scratches! Poor things—born too soon!
The teacher did a great thing putting us together with the students—not because any of us are literary giants or famous journalists or songwriters, but because it gave the students a chance to see that just regular people from our rural county are doing these things. I hope that inspires the ones who enjoy writing to keep doing it and the ones who aspire to writing to give it a try. And to any budding teachers among those students--remember this English teacher who not only cares about teaching students, but also about inspiring them to follow their dreams.
The teacher limited the day to writers from our county this time, but next year wants to open it up to Eastern Kentucky writers and fill the gymnasium with us. A few years from now I expect to be sharing that gymnasium with writers I first met this week as students because I think more than a few are born writers. And I’m looking forward to reading their books, blogs, and articles, and listening to their songs.