So, as many of you know, I'm a teacher. More specifically, I teach English to middle- and high-school students. That means guiding young people as they learn to read and discuss with greater awareness and confidence. It also means guiding young writers. If you're visiting this website, there's a good chance you know that, in addition to being a teacher, I'm a writer. Perhaps you've read one or more of my books.
Being these two things at once, a teacher and a writer, is just about the best professional life I can imagine. It's a life of trial and error. Of invention. Of telling stories and appreciating the stories of others.
Anyway, I just read a really wonderful piece by another teacher, Jessica Keigan, whom I've never met. In the piece, she champions the idea of teachers as writers. This means students should watch their teachers write at every stage of the process--not just when something's finished but at the beginning and in the middle of the process, when everything's messy and difficult. I encourage you to read Keigan's article, which you'll find here. Keigan argues that when teachers show students how writing works--how it's hard but rewarding, how it's never perfect--students don't feel so alone in their own writing struggles.
Keigan's article also reminds me of a book manuscript I finished writing in the past year--a book that my publisher is considering at the moment. It's a novel-in-vignettes, sharing a genre (I believe) with Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street. Anyway, I've also written an essay that I hope will be published in the back of this book. The essay does what Keigan talks about--it demystifies how writing happens. Actually, it lays out a formula readers can follow as they write their own novels-in-vignettes. I explain, in the essay, how writers of any ability can write a meaningful novel in a matter of months. If and when this book (Slingers, about an eighth-grade girl who's a basketball phenom and battles jealousies all around her) is published, I hope to tour with it and, as I talk at schools and camps and other places, encourage as many young people as possible to write books of their own.
So there's my spiel. If this sounds interesting to you, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to visit your school or other youth group to deliver just this message.
My brother (the author Patrick Hueller) and I have recently talked about touring together, sharing our books and (what we think is) witty banter--but all so that the writing of stories looks to young people like the fun it really can be, even if it is hard work.