1. We are all creatures of story…from cave paintings to the Russian novel. And yet, so many people struggle with writing. What blocks people from thinking of themselves as writers?
There are 237 steps to climb to my High School in Alicante, and I remember my struggle to find an important topic for my daily writing exercise before I reached the door of my classroom. By step 180 I used to slow down, not only to catch by breath, but to give me more time, hoping that some great idea would pop up. I think that fear of not having a brilliant story to share, starts for the majority even at Elementary School, and for many, it is the end of the road in a writing career. Writing is more than an intellectual exercise, it is a romance with words, words that find a vacant silence to fill it up with wonder, curiosity, expectation or love. Our universe is made up of “vacant silences”. There is room for seven million stories, one written by each person in this tiny planet.
2. What, if anything, do you think is missing most in how writing instruction is handled in our schools?
Perhaps not understanding the difference between “authorship” and “writing” is the answer to your question. The freedom to let the mind run free on the page should never be policed by Mr. grammar, of Ms. Syntax. Authors, at any age, should not be paralyzed by spelling, punctuation, verb tenses or appropriate structures. Their main focus should be on describing with detail the circumstances of their plots and the features of their characters, the maintenance of a tone, or the surprise of an ending. And ONLY, only when all of that is on the page, then we can all change hats and be the best managing editors, and copy editors we can be. As you well know, we published authors, spend a year writing the story and four correcting it. Teachers should be “Acquisition Editors” that person who discovers the talent in a writer and offers her a contract many years before the book will be ready to be published.