I teach English Composition 101 to freshmen twice weekly at the punishing hour (for college students and me) of 8:30 a.m. Most of them are taking the course as a general requirement and have no great interest in (and in some cases, a great dispassion toward) writing.
This semester my students seem to be having a particularly difficult time breaking free from the strictures of the well-drilled five-paragraph essay format. One student who did so in spectacular fashion was kind enough to allow me to share her piece with the class last week. It was a tender ode to her deceased brother -- who now lives on in my mind always, and, I hope, in the minds of 22 of her classmates.
"This is why we write," I told the class. We write to share memories and to help ourselves remember. We write for the same reason that we speak, except that in writing we can choose our words so much more carefully, and we can also reach many more people at one time.
My five-year-old daughter sits down to write stories, and she still mixes up her b's and d's. My students who abhor 'writing' sit in class and text their friends. Why the compulsion to write, to text, to talk? If we don't tell our stories, in a way it's as though we never lived. Relating our experiences is what makes us human; it's what makes our lives matter; in a truly basic sense, it's what we all live for. -- Jeanne Marie