We are putting together our final portfolios for the course, and I had to respond to the following questions:
"Who are you as a writer?"
I am a seeker, a reflector and a reacher. I write to work things out—the kinks in my head. Does this make sense?
On the page, it makes more. Talking it out helps but I get ahead of myself, especially with a wise and witty partner. I need to see the words on the page; it’s the comfort of bedtime stories and bookstores. The wonder of the first time I folded some typing paper in half, stapled it in the middle, and wrote my very own title on the front. I can do this too: I can join in the conversation.
That’s what I am trying to do, every time. Turn those flitting, spinning ideas into something more concrete that I can look at later. Other people can look at them, and I’m reaching out to see if anyone else feels the same way. If I will feel the same way in two years or two minutes. Two weeks later and I’m off on another tangent, following the letters down dark holes and burrowing under blankets to see where they will lead. It is as if I cannot know what is in my own mind unless I can write it down. I make incredible discoveries in this way.
"Who are you as a teacher of writing?"
I am an evangelist. I have found this way—let me share it with you! You would not believe the things that will fall out of your own head! You will not believe the way you can shape them like clay once you see them there! To those who feel powerless: please, look here for tools of power.
I am a reacher here too. I am reaching to those who love to play with words and those who don’t yet realize that they do. Those who resist are afraid. Words have meant failure to them before. Now they can mean a torch lifted for others to wonder at, or to follow. I can carry that torch? Me?
I desperately want them to see. I am a cheerleader, I am a stepstool. I am a mirror. I am a beanbag chair. I am a mean-seeming personal trainer, and I don’t want them to get flabby. This keeps me from getting flabby. I am scared too. I don’t want their voices to get drowned out in my own. I don’t want mine to be lost in theirs. We are negotiating this space, and our words are our tools.