I was so blessed to present a workshop for students at SET High School in San Diego, CA on getting published. The class was “Writing as a Career” and while I don’t yet write as a career, I am on that journey. Since I’m a few steps ahead of these students, I was invited in to talk about that process.
One of the coolest things is that, before he really knew I was doing this, my son Timothy signed up for the class. It was interesting to see how he interacted in class, and I hope interesting for him to see his old man’s passion.
The entire idea of a class about writing for a career intrigues me, and I wish I’d had that opportunity growing up. I asked Ava Lennon, the educator for SET High School who teaches the class, why she did so and she responded, “I want to help students find their voices through writing. So often, English in general can be a turn-off for students, but a class like this enables students to see writing in a new way!”
Despite being a published author, the mechanics of English are complex and difficult (for me) to grasp. It’s nice to see a teacher striving to make the written language more accessible and understandable to students.
I’m also happy to present to these students because I get to relive that intense excitement of seeing my name in print. You know what? That fire still gets me deep in the chest each time my name appears on the page. Even after 16 credits in over a dozen periodicals, it still gets me like the first time in Pentecostal Messenger back in the spring of 2000.
That’s the main thing I wanted to show the kids. They all need something to carry them through the writing dry spells. Unless they learn the kind of ambition it takes to be a published author, and unless they learn to kindle that fire within them, they will not be successful writers. It is that fire…that ambition…that separates authors from the unpublished.
Ms. Lennon invites outside speakers in because, “my students deserve to hear from a variety of different published authors. If they are truly to succeed, they need to talk to people who have struggled, who have gone through the hard times, but who have persevered nonetheless.”
This is the sort of attitude that I believe my teachers had when I was a child. It was a different form (Girard, Kansas didn’t have a lot of published authors when I was young), but when Mrs. Johnson let me take home a laptop to write my stories, it was to foster this perseverance and to start seeing my stories on the page. These are things I’ll always be grateful for, and I hope these students will be likewise grateful for Ms. Lennon.
Continues Lennon: “I want them to see themselves in others. I want them to hear about different perspectives. I want them to LEARN.”
You don’t get better than that in a teacher.
I’m so grateful to Ms. Ava Lennon and SET high school for letting me share my passion for writing with the students and to talk through the writing and publishing process. Words cannot really describe the joy in my heart as I answered questions from the students.
I hope to have many opportunities like this in the future, both at SET and other venues. If I can help just a few people, my son included, gain success in their writing ventures, I’ll be as happy as a lark (that’s a simile, in case you didn’t know that)!