Saturday, January 24, 2009
Miss Snark's First Victim has a blog post up today about why we write. It's pretty good--she challenges writers to dig deeper, beyond the glib phrases many writers tend to toss around when the question is asked.
And I started out with an answer all ready. But I couldn't. Because all I could think about was this kid I met today.
The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. --Benjamin Mays
So this kid I met. He had no goals in life at all. I am totally serious here. Today we were working on selecting topics for a paper. The students have to write 6-8 pages of a research paper on any topic they pick--any goal, dream, or favorite thing--and this kid could think of nothing.
Me: So, what do you like?
Me: What do you do for fun?
Kid: Play video games.
Me: Do you want to write about your favorite video game?
Kid: I don't have a favorite video game.
Me: Then why do you play?
Kid: Nothing else to do.
Me: What else do you like?
Repeat ad nauseum.
It wasn't that he didn't want to write the paper (or at least, it wasn't entirely that). It was that he could not write a paper on something he liked because there was nothing that he liked enough to do that on. Nothing. And there has never been a sadder moment for me as a teacher. No dreams. No goals. Nothing of joy in his life. He was an empty shell of a child.
After this, I read the post on Miss Snark's First Victim. My first instinct was to respond by saying this:
All humans have the urge to create, be it a physical object, a child, a thought or belief, or a story. In its essence, human motivation lies in creation, and writers choose to create through words.But after working with this kid, I questioned the validity of this answer. A kid with no goals, no dreams, and no urge to create anything. It was an alien concept for me to experience. I have always had the urge to create, and that filters all I do in life. I have a very hard time just sitting there. Writing, cooking, sewing, calligraphy--I even consider reading to be a form of creation because of the thoughts I create as I read. Just because it's in my imagination doesn't mean it isn't a creation.
So it is perhaps facetious for me to claim that "all humans have the urge to create." Because that is clearly not the case.
I am very much interested in what you all think:
- Do you think that at least most humans have the urge to create?
- Is creation the source of your writing desire--and if not, what is?
- How would you inspire or reach out to a child with no goals in life?