I Hope the Talking Means They’re Stealing Conversations


Part of this is a test to see if my students are paying attention. Part of this is me, slightly annoyed that I’m hearing more talking than typing. Miles Davis – at the request of the mo-hawked kid on the left – is playing over the speaker system, and a good majority of the students have replaced the smooth sounds of jazz with ratchety hip-hop, or Madonna, or whatever they can slam into their ears fast enough to avoid the subtleties of the Quintet era Davis.

This is my Creative Writing II Class. They are supposed to be the ones who are proud of their work, and working hard toward a piece that will be submitted for publication to a small press journal prior to the end of the school year. For the most part, these kids truly want to be here, and more than that, they are working incredibly hard to perfect their pieces as we move toward the final due dates. I’m proud of them. Those that are slacking off now will catch up; they did the last term. There are only 14 students in this class – some of whom are not found in this blurred photo – and each of them have talent. This was the right grouping of students. The random computer scheduling got it right with this one.

Unfortunately, today is a Tuesday that feels like a Monday, and they aren’t quite working as hard as I would like them to be. Some are checking out this website – some may even comment – and others are looking at prom pictures, or random assignments that don’t belong in this class (I actually had to pause while I typing just now to remind a student that this was a writing class, and not a web design class. Funny how the two are confused).

There are a handful of students in this current group who I could truly see going on to a career in writing. I hope to read their names in the big name quarterlies one day, and smile, knowing that maybe, just maybe they learned something while they were talking, and not typing. As we all know, the best writers are conversation thieves.


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