Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why I Write

Did you know that yesterday was National Day on Writing? This is one that I appreciate someone inventing because it gives me a reason to talk about my favorite thing: writing!

This morning while I was drying my hair (always my best thinking time), I was pondering why I do what I do. I often joke that I have about 4 jobs. That is literally true. I am an online writing instructor. I tutor ESL students at a local high school. I write picture books, and I write materials that are assigned to me (curricular, etc.). And, occasionally, like this weekend, I speak and present materials to school groups or other groups. all of those jobs, I basically have one role: to communicate ideas.

When my son was a toddler, I often felt like I was a translator. First, I was my son's translator because when he was learning to speak,  he could usually only be understood by me and my husband. But it was my translating for him that I did most often. I explained concepts to him in his language, with words he understood. From that was born my first book, Things I See in Church. This little book, showed in very simple language what was happening in church. "Bells -- Jesus calls us." "People -- Jesus gathers us." The concepts were simple (tied to a tangible object), but the "lesson" was deeper. But through simple words and pictures (hopefully), the child could learn a little bit.

When I teach or tutor English as a Second Language, I encourage students not to use a translating device, but rather, to listen to an explanation of the concept in simpler language. So, the other day, I was helping a student understand the concept of the electoral college from her U.S. History class. Tough stuff, but I think we succeeded in the end.

A writer is all about making those connections--taking an idea and telling it in ways that the audience can understand. So, I'll take a concept, like counting, and turn it into a silly story (like Gobble-Gobble-Crash). Kids count while reading the story, but also just enjoy some goofy turkeys flailing around a barnyard.

That's how I see what I do: I communicate ideas to people and make connections that bring us together...and maybe publish a few books along the way. :)

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