"I wish I were famous," my 5-year-old daughter announced yesterday. When I asked why, she explained reasonably, "Because then everyone would like me."
Her enthusiasm seemed undampened when I explained that it didn't quite work that way. I then asked her if she knew how to get famous, and she said, "Yes. You find what you're talented at and then work really hard to get good at it." Followed immediately by, "I know what my talent is. Hula hooping. I'm working on being a great hula hooper."
Wary of pinning all my hopes and dreams for her on her hula hooping future, I explained to Kate that there is one other way to become famous that has nothing to do with talent. And that's just to be the best, kindest, most generous, most honorable, most principled person one can be. I reminded her that we are celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday this weekend, and that he was famous for standing up for what was right and for helping other people.
As writers, we have the opportunity to reach many people with our words. As we all know, words matter deeply. Words can wound, and words can inspire. To aspiration and inspiration! --Jeanne Marie
My college students write a research essay at the end of each semester. The assignment I give asks them to contemplate the following question: "How do you plan to leave your mark on the world?" I find this question an excellent jumping-off point for a research essay because it requires them to 1) write about something that matters to them 2) to contemplate a specific plan for both writing and living.
This question is really the one I ask myself before I write anything. I also like to ask my students on their other assignments, "Why are you writing this essay?" If the answer is, "for a grade," I can pretty much guarantee that it won't be a very good one. :)