A crucial aspect of the lesson was assuring the students that even adults often don’t consider their writing worthy of the world. The day before I visited @5BFish, I was speaking to Jimmy Casas, the renowned Principal of Bettendorf High School who just published his first book. Jimmy talked to me about the creative process and how you feel, even when the book is in your hand and rave reviews are pouring in, that maybe it’s not good enough to share. As soon as he told me this, I knew I had to invite him to participate in the lesson via phone, and he did so, brilliantly.
The one word that Jimmy brought up that resonated with the students more than any other? Vulnerable. When you write, you put yourself out there for others to criticize. But yet we can’t ever let this stop us from putting ourselves out there – but we can let this make us work even harder to ensure our writing is WOW.
One student who completely understood the lesson that I and Jimmy imparted was Walter. Rather than go on and explain further, I will just share this image of a poem that Walter created in the days following my visit, and his written explanation of how determined he is to write works that are WOW.