Monday I wanted to cry all day. The server was down on final deadline. But worse than that, a kid I love to death wanted to give up writing after I coached his story.
This kid loves writing. He WANTS to be awesome. He works so hard. He exudes writing enthusiasm. But the story he wanted published was all over the place. Every paragraph was about something different. Nothing worked.
I tried to show him how stories have themes. How they work together. How they’re organized to flow. How first sentences serve as signposts for what’s to come. At the end of our session instead of saying he understood, he said, “I get it. I suck. I didn’t get in this class to suck. I got in this class to get published.”
My whole “remember when you gave yourself permission to write crap and how that’s okay because you can turn the crap into awesome” motivational speech went nowhere.
The end of that day defeated me.
Or I felt like it did. It was even Facebook official.
And then the most amazing thing happened.
The young man turned in a crappy story the next day with a lead that blew me away. It. Was. Gorgeous.
The rest of the story sucked. It was shallow and filled with reporter intrusion and the editing was maybe the worse ever. But the lead sang, which was awesome since it’s a story about a local band.
So I coached him through it and asked him if the session from the day before had helped in any way. He explained the connections he’d made, but he said he still hated that his story sucked. I get that. I hate it when my stories suck. Not giving up on them is the difference between a want to be writer and a professional.
Wednesday he turned the story in again. This time the reporter intrusion was gone, but the story was still superficial. So he went back and interviewed again.
Thursday he worked with a student writing coach then turned it in again. It needed copy edits.
Today he turned in a story that’s pretty darn close to publishable.
When we come back from break he starts working with his editors instead of me. I warned him they’re going to want more depth, but he’s up to the challenge.
Yep. I love my job.