There is great joy in passing one’s knowledge on to another. Even greater joy is experienced in having that process happily accepted by the people to whom you are delivering it…
Such has been my experience these past two weeks, working with the Creative Writing students in Peter Shaheen’s classroom at Seaholm High School. We started at the beginning, talking about genre and reader audience. We discussed the twenty master plots and the forty-five master characters… and then we moved on to scene, setting and dialogue. After the foundations were laid, the teenagers began to write. And the last two days, we worked in editorial mode with sessions on constructive peer review.
I truly enjoy working with teen writers. Their imaginations are as fertile as when they were in elementary school… but now they have a little more life experience and a more robust lexicon to enrich their stories and poems in a way that is always provoking, in one way, or another. Some incorporate their own connectivity with life, social mores, and relationships. Others introduce us to worlds that are distant relatives to our own… some cliché and others fresh and filled with wonderment.
These students were fun to work with because of their willingness to take on a challenge and perhaps venture into some undiscovered territory. Some wrote in forms that were comfortable to them, excising demons and exercising playmates. Others stretched themselves and reached for the blank page with a plan to create something new for them… and, as they intended, new for their readers, too. It was fun to watch their creative choices begin inside their heads, and then later, spill upon the page.
The goal of this exercise was to create an anthology… the collected works of two groups of teenagers who found a new commonality inside the written word. We will be holding a launch event in December to share their success with the community and celebrate the effort and creativity of this dynamic group of young adults. I will post more details about this event as they become available.
I am tremendously grateful to Peter Shaheen, teacher extraordinaire, for inviting me into his classroom and giving me free reign with his students. This is a man who has dedicated himself to quality teaching for the past forty years, and is well loved by his students. The reason is clear… he gives them information on the creative process, and then allows them the freedom of full creative control. He nurtures their gifts and directs their whims, always with wonderful results. Mr. Sheheen is exactly the kind of English teacher every student should have supporting their creative writing education. He is liberal with his knowledge and exuberant with his enthusiasm. I would relish the opportunity to share his classroom again, any day!
The anthology, “Clock Watchers”, will be available shortly on pre-order, at the Grey Wolfe Publishing website. Watch for that announcement coming soon. All proceeds from book sales will be returned to Seaholm High School, in Birmingham, Michigan, to support future literacy programming.
Diana Kathryn Plopa
I love being in love; writing; reading; mammals of nearly every kind, and especially micro-humans! Come enjoy my world with me - Secret Decoder Ring not required!!