Friday, March 27, 2009

David the Writer

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sailing silly seas since 2005! If you're a newcomer, welcome! Have a seat, choose a Goddess, or several, or none! We aren't picky about anything. Except our upholstery ... so when you take your seat, sit upon it gently.

Life is very odd. Four years ago I took my daughters to spend the day at the beach with a friend. Now I am employed by that friend's mother in a job I like. I get dressed and drive to work every day, just because I happened to take my kids to the beach one sunny August afternoon.

The job I have is language arts tutor at a magnet school just outside Camden, New Jersey.

This past week began a new cycle of tutoring. Now I'm working with sophomores. I know more of them than any other class, since I held two long-term substitute positions among them last year.

I hadn't met David the Writer before this week.

He came to his first scheduled tutoring session early and was courteous and attentive. When it appeared the other scheduled students would be no-shows, I started my lesson. And he stopped me.

He said, "I write stories, but I'm embarrassed because my spelling and stuff is so bad."

For the next 40 minutes, David peppered me with questions about story-writing. What do you do when you can't think of an ending? What happens if you start out with one idea, and another one takes over? How can you fix something once you've written it down? (He writes the old-fashioned way, with a pencil.)

David said he had a 24-page story at home, but he couldn't find it. He was going to keep looking, so he could show it to me. He did show me one he wrote for English class, although he wasn't happy with it because he said he rushed it.

This young man has something to say, and rather than help him find the courage, tenacity, and technical ability to say it, I'm going to have to bore him to death preparing him for a standardized test.

The only hope I have is that, now that he's found someone he can talk to about writing, David will keep talking to me, and maybe show me some things. His life has not been dull. No one who lives in Camden has a dull life.

I would like to go above and beyond with this student. I want him to have his say and feel good about it.


Alex Pendragon said...

I wish someone had latched onto ME at a fresh, impressionable young age and assured me that yes, I could write. Maybe I wouldn't have waited forty years to discover that yes, golly gee, I CAN!

Illisse said...

Maybe you could work with him after school or at lunch time. And Ditto what The Michael said.

And tell him not to worry about spelling and grammer. That is why the good goddess invented spell check and editors. Also the more you write (and read, reading is very important for good writing)the better you become at spelling & grammer. Trust me, I'm dislexic and had to learn all this the hard way.


Dancing With Fey said...

The question about new ideas taking over once you've already started sounds REALLY familiar to me. I'm not that great at writing short stories (I usually don't finish them) but I am a poet. And oh, my poems can go off in weird directions, sometimes. Once I wanted to write a poem about mending books (something I do as a volunteer at a library), and instead it turned into a poem about books crumbling into dust! How weird is that??

I hope David achieves whatever dreams he has for his writing.

yellowdoggranny said...

if anyone can do him's you..

Unknown said...

as a teacher i can feel exactly where you are coming from here anne- he has not happened upon you by chance....blessed be xx

Pom said...

I agree with Lisa and also echo the fact that it would have been nice to have someone capable of offering guidance to me when I was around that age. I'm not sure how you should do it but I know you will hopefully find a way to help with the standardized tests (because you have to) AND his writing....

Davoh said...

Tell him Jack London wrote with pencil on scraps of paper and couldn't spell either; though he did, apparently, have a good editor ;-)