Friday, September 21, 2007

Lessons on the Veranda

I've had four of them so far, and another scheduled for this evening. From 8 to 18 students arrive in the dark to come sit around the table on the veranda and look at me expectantly. I have to wonder what they actually expect to hear from me. Of the 50 or so students that have come to these sessions on 'Writing for Publication', about 6 have admitted to having actually written something. Two have been brave enough to show me a sample of their work.

Since my classroom presentations were oriented towards giving them an awareness of some of the basics like characterization, description, plotting and point of view, I had thought they were coming to find out some of the business-related aspects of writing. Given the limitations of the setting, with few willing to ask any questions, I've been covering some of the basics: There is a manuscript format. Where do you look in a magazine for the editor's address? Short stories are more likely to sell than long ones.

But the last session was attended by Third-Years, effectively the college seniors, and I had not presented the classroom sessions to them. Some of their questions were things I had covered with the First-Years, like dialog.

I wish I had a way to start a writer's group with them, and coach them through a few weeks of it. People in America just can't appreciate how isolated they are. They seem to know what email is, but few if any have any internet access. The post office is a 7 km walk away, and the whole college shares one box number. Maybe all that will improve when they get their computer lab up and running with it's connection to a large satellite dish. They have a number of hand-me-down Windows 95 computers that will soon go on-line.

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