Questions and Answers

As I mentioned in a piece last week, I have finally answered the question, “How do I find the time to write?” to my own satisfaction. This came after a member of a workshop I was teaching cheerfully told me my answer that day did not help him one little bit. I would come to learn that other members of that workshop were happy with the answer I gave that afternoon. Fortunately, they weren’t the ones who asked the question. Had someone else asked the question, I would not have spent the next week thinking and thinking about time, and motivation, and belief. And when I say “thinking” I mean me asking myself, “How could I better explain this?” and then waiting for my answer. The answer that finally came helped teach me what I had always known but could not express precisely. In finding that precise expression, what I knew had now found a shape I could share with the most people possible.

This happens in almost every class or workshop I teach. I love that feeling of connection when comprehension blooms, which feels like fear dropping away. This does not always happen, and being bit of a perfectionist, the idea that I cannot answer every question exactly right the first time does not always sit well with me. How tempting, as The Teacher, to believe it is my job to do just that.

But as my friend from the conference a couple weeks ago taught me once again, the most productive questions are often the ones I can’t answer. Now my own little creative engine begins to turn. What is more delicious to my mind than a question it wants to answer? Nothing, of course, because that is why I have a mind in the first place. The division between teacher and student is entirely illusory. Both arrive in the classroom to ask and answer questions, and both leave, hopefully, with better questions still to ask.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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