At the beginning-of-the-year school staff meetings, administrators always try to start with something inspirational. Usually, they are not terribly successful, although they are pretty amusing. (Sometimes unintentionally.) This year, they showed a short video that was successful on both counts:

Know Your Why

It occurred to me that I have many times read advice on websites about writing that urged me to know my audience, know my genre, know my characters, know my market, etcetera. But I don’t recall anyone ever telling me to know my why for writing. So I started thinking about the basic message of my self-published books. And I realised that I could break down the plot/ theme into some simple, basic ideas:

  • I boldly throw my heroines where they don’t want to go (my new writing slogan).
  • I challenge their preconceived ideas of right and wrong.
  • I “throw down” all their ideas about the “isms” in their worlds, whatever those may be.
  • I force them to rethink their most dearly held assumptions.
  • I subvert the dominant paradigm. (I don’t know where I picked up that phrase, but I’ve challenged my sophomores to define it for fifteen years.)

And I realised that I teach for the same reasons that I write. Or I write for the same reasons that I teach. To shake things up a little. To encourage people to think more deeply. To develop empathy for all. To teach tolerance. To force myself do all of those things because I have to do them first, before I can teach them or write about them or live them myself.

To boldly throw my students where they don’t want to go (my new teaching slogan).