Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Love Affair with Language

Guys, I love words. Like...I really really just love words.

I attended and presented at NCPTW (the national writing center conference) in Tampa, Fl this past weekend, and for our brief stay (and I mean brief..like 12 hours of conference for 40+ hours of van riding) I was surrounded by fellow consultants and writers and just all of these people who spend their time helping others learn to better communicate through writing; it was during this time that I realized just how badly I wish everyone shared my passion for words and how badly I wish I could encourage everyone to love writing the way I do.

Language is such a powerful force and so invaluable a tool, and yet every day I work with students who express a sheer hatred towards writing. They see it as an obstacle blocking their path towards an A in a class they wish they weren't taking; they see it as a product, a means to and end; rarely do they recognize it as a valuable form of communication. Worse, I understand why they see it this way; a quick glance through any high school curriculum offers the sad answer to that question. Students, in general, are not taught to write for writing's sake; they are not taught to love words, though some will develop this on their own. They are taught to write on the ideals of "because I said so." They are taught to write not to share their thoughts and ideas, but to have them judged. Is it really any wonder so many of them learn to cringe at first mention of writing?

If only I could show them, I think. Words. Oh gosh, words. Do you realize how many amazing, moving, beautiful, tragic, heart-breaking, life-changing stories have been written using words? I'll tell you how many: all of them. I live for stories. I take them in like oxygen and occasionally suffocate myself attempting to hold them in for too long because I just cannot bear to release them. Stories are- often quite literally- what keep me going. And I am far from extraordinary in this respect. Millions and millions of people around the world have a favorite book, television show, character; one that inspires them, makes them question the world, that they connect to personally for any number of infinite reasons. If there is anything that connects us as humans, it is our need for and love of stories.

I want to inspire the students I work with- and just about anyone else who will listen- to tell their stories; I want them to want to write because they know they have ideas worth sharing with the world. I want them to see writing not as a product for judgement, but a tool of self-expression. Everyone has a story worth telling, and everyone deserves to experience a love affair with language.

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