I visited with a class of fifth graders this week and found myself offering encouragement to students who struggle with the same insecurities about their writing that I hear from adults in workshop settings. I'm not sure we ever outgrow our apprehensions when it comes to setting down our words on paper. Perhaps it's experience and sheer repetition that eventually allows us to trust that we've created a work that is ready for public viewing -- in a workshop setting or as a submission.
One of the things I almost always do with classes is read excerpts from some of my rejection letters. I think it is important for the children to understand that no writer ever gets it right the first time. I hear from so many students who are disappointed in themselves when they fall short of perfection and other's who don't make an effort because they view success as being out of their reach. If I don't achieve anything else in my visit I hope to change their perception of the process and help them to understand that the real failure is not to try.
Here are Friday's Famous Firsts:
Do you know the title and author for these well-know first lines?
1. "The young prince was known here and there (and just about everywhere else) as Prince Brat."
2. "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."