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Fortune-Cookie Trigger

October 15, 2014


My fortune cookie message was “Silence will be the best reply.” My interpretation was loose, but topical:

As a creative writing tutor at a community house, I’m constantly walking a metaphorical tightrope. On one side, I have to keep in mind that, for most class members, writing is a hobby. Most of my students are retired, and for them writing is a form of relaxation, a way to pass on family history, or a way to reflect on their lives so far – all perfectly valid reasons for taking up a pen (or keyboard). My point is that most of the class are amateur writers, and perfectly content to remain so.

However, I myself am a professional writer. I’ve completed a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, had columns published in The Age and The Big Issue and stories accepted to numerous literary magazines. So I have an storehouse of accumulated knowledge to share, and must assume that at least some students are there to accept my feedback and try to improve their work; otherwise, why bother having a tutor at all?

The other function of our group is for members to get out of the house and socialise, to be part of their local community. Inevitably, classes involve a fair bit of small talk, which I feel terrible squashing. At the same time, I am the teacher, and If everyone is to have a chance to workshop within the two hours at our disposal, it’s up to me to keep discussion moving along. Maintaining order is part of my job, much as I feel cheeky shooshing students twice my age.

There are no answers to these conundrums, so I just continue wobbling along my tightrope, trying to do my job while keeping everyone happy. It’s not easy, but it’s fun in a nerve-wracking way, and there’s a certain satisfaction in practising and improving. Rather like tightrope-walking. Or writing.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2014 2:05 pm

    Great reflection. Sounds like a bit of a conundrum — but also a lot of fun. Judging by your blog, I’m sure you’re a great writing mentor.

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