Dreaming Out Loud with the Central League Championship Writers

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Twenty-five minutes into my talk to the Central League Writing Championships writers, I stopped. There was a young man in an upper row with a look on his face, a question percolating.  He wanted, as it turned out, to know if you can write just to write. Is publishing always the end game? Are other readers necessary?

It was the perfect question—the launch for what became thoroughly moving testimony as I asked the nearly 100 high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors to tell me why they write. What is writing good for? He writes, I soon learned, to escape. She writes when she cannot draw the thing she's trying to record. She writes so that she can imagine the lives of others—see the world through their eyes. He writes to discover. She writes because her world is full of stories, things too ripe to let pass by. He writes to exercise his imagination. She writes to bare her soul. She writes because, she says, she has to, and he because he can.

Yes, I said. And yes. While in a room across the hall, a dozen teachers from schools throughout the region read the stories that these students had written in response to the contest prompt. Does it matter who wins? Does one write to win? Or do we write, as I ultimately suggested, so that we can more thoroughly know—ourselves and the world we are born into, the possibilities ahead?

I drove home through rain, a smile on my face. Drove home thinking that if all my writing life ever became was a chance to dream out loud with other dreamers such as those bright-faced kids, it would be enough.

Thank you, Central League, for the opportunity. And write eternally on.


Lilian Nattel said...

All wonderful reasons to write, and wonderful to hear.

kathy barham said...

I love those testimonies, especially the "because I can" and "because I have to." Seems that the writer's impulse is universal. It was wonderful to see you, Beth, and wonderful to see you in teacher mode as well as writer mode. I will use your photo activity with my own students. Thank you for coming today!

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