What's Mine Is Yours

I was thinking again recently about Steve Berry’s perception that you cannot teach someone to write, you can only teach someone how to teach themselves to write. I think this is useful to remember whether or not you are teaching writing. For instance, I am currently working on a non-fiction book, a kind half-memoir called No One Is Broken. I mention the title because although the book is ostensibly about what I have learned in the course of raising a son diagnosed on the autism spectrum, the book is really about the perspective that no one is broken and what that means to the whole of our lives, not just teaching children on the autism spectrum how to go to the movies without causing a commotion.

To make my point about no one being broken, I fill the book with stories, metaphors, advice, perceptions, and any other arrow in my teaching quiver I can reach. Theoretically, I will lay out a complete portrait of the unbroken human world, the reading of which will leave one convinced—for all the reasons I cite—why no one is or ever has been broken.

But the truth is, the title is all that matters. The title is the book, is the perception upon which I wish the readers to train their attention. All the writing I do after the title I do mostly to keep the reader’s attention as close as possible to where I would like it to be. I do this knowing that in the end my readers will have forgotten 99% of what I have written, will have forgotten 99% of why I think no one is broken.

But if I am lucky, they will remember the title.  If I am lucky, they will remember the feeling of no one being broken. If so, my work will have been successful. For if someone remembers the feeling of no one being broken, and if they like this feeling of training the light beam of their attention upon it, and if they choose to do so in their own time, by and by reasons, stories, and parables for why no one is broken will come to them, and they will begin to teach themselves. Now their knowledge will be their own, translated into their own language, their own metaphors, and what was mine is now quite literally theirs.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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