Mr. Crilly the Writer

There’s something very special about that first sip of tea in the morning, before you’re about to start writing.

Most people can relate to that, I think, especially coffee drinkers savoring that first cup on a morning when they don’t have to go to work. The only difference between me and them is that spending a Sunday morning writing is often as relaxing as sitting down with a good book or diving into something like Pillars of Eternity on my computer, with the added bonus of actually being productive. There’s an almost Zen-like quality to it, in the sense that if I don’t get to do my Sunday morning writing these days, it throws off my whole week.

This is one of many things I’ll be trying to explain to my Grade 10s tomorrow. A bunch of my History students have asked me to be a guest speaker in their Careers class, to discuss being a writer. I talk about writing on occasion in class, and some of my students were amazed or terrified at my ability to juggle four jobs at once, between teaching and writing. So not only do I have to decide what would be interesting or relevant to include in my presentation tomorrow, but I have to be careful not to repeat myself too much. Which would be a lot easier if I kept track of my tangents and mad ramblings on a day-to-day basis (note: start doing that).

Explaining writing to non-writers can be tough; we talk about it a lot in the community, and I’ve mentioned it here a few times. I even blogged about it last summer, discussing every little thing that I do in a week that’s part of being a writer (note: dredge up blog post for tomorrow). What I want to make sure to do is paint an accurate picture of what it means to be a writer, from the glossy amazingness to the mind-numbing slog and everything in between. Because until you’re actually pursuing some sort of creative career, it’s difficult to really conceptualize what that means. I’ve even spoken with visual artists or musicians that don’t really understand writing, and I’m sure there are things about both of those crafts that I don’t get.

What I might do is start by running through that list of everything a writer does in a week, and then distill writing down into some core concepts. But what would those be? There are the skills that have been hammered into their brains all semester, like time management. But I’d rather talk about the elements that are particular to being a successful writer. Energy is one, especially if you have a  day job. Monitoring health is close to that, given how sedentary writing is. Community, to avoid feeling isolated. Research. Trial and error. Getting over rejection. Writing what you know, and not being afraid if what you know is pretty dark. And maybe perspective. Whatever I discuss, I just hope my students enjoy it and maybe learn a little bit more about why their teacher is so weird (they always say “awesome,” but I know they mean weird). And if there’s time and they want me to, I might even read a little of what I write. I’m sure that’ll add to my cool factor.

Okay, I think that’ll do, until I get up there tomorrow and go off-the-cuff, as I sometimes do in the classroom. Thanks for helping me figure this out 🙂 Now it’s time for cup #2 from my pot of tea and some story editing…


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