Writing the present

I call this walking off a cliff, knowing that a helicopter is right there to catch you. Knowing, but not seeing it in your conscious mind. Some of us write ourselves off the cliff and in that moment of falling, catch the void in a turn of phrase, in a poetic twist, or a sudden metaphor. It becomes something we can gift to others; the reassurance that the next moment is going to be wonderful, no matter what.

What I find most difficult in teaching creative writing is watching young people worry about the future, even inside the worlds of their own stories and plays. But the reward of watching their exhilaration when they get it, really get the present moment with all its stunning opportunity, is profound. I’m learning, too.

Today is the day for our regional Scholastic Awards announcement, and I know young writers who are anxious to know. Is their work good enough and will they get the encouragement to continue pursuing the craft? In storytelling, there’s always a win and a loss, an indivisible pair, and it’s the same in every competitive field. If they’ve learned well, every young writer knows, in a way that they don’t consciously know, that each step is wonderful. I’m proud of each one for taking the risk.

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