random thoughts: on writing and living

I was recently invited to speak to Alex's first grade glass about writing and living a writerly life.  Yesterday morning was the day.

The time with the kids was lovely -- I brought huge enlargements of some photographs with me, as well as my journal.  They asked all kinds of questions and shared their own stories.  We talked about where we can get inspiration -- from the words we write in our journals, from the photographs we take, from the art we draw.  

"You know what's cool about being a writer?" I asked.

"No, what?" they responded in unison.

"All you need to do to be a writer is write.  You don't need to wait until you're grown up, or go to university or anything.  You just need to write, and write, and write.  You need to make a point to keep on writing.  Actually practice writing.  And while it's always a good idea to go to school so you can learn about other writers, and learn about what they wrote, or even how they wrote, you never want to copy them.  You want to be inspired by them, and let them help you envision your own cool ways to write your own stories."

"Ooh," they said, pensively.  I don't know if they quite got it, but maybe they did.

Later on, I was thinking about this exchange, and I realized that the same is likely true for just living life: I mean, it doesn't take a diploma or a formal education to live, and there's no reason to do anything proactively in life, really, if you think about it.  You could just let it wash over you, and just reactively deal with circumstances as they come.  However, it seems to me that the way to learn to live life best is to actually practice living -- challenging yourself to do more, or learn more, and to be more, you know?  Purposeful living.  And while it's always a good idea to learn about other people and how they lived great lives, I wouldn't think you'd ever want to copy them.  You'd want to be inspired by them, and let their stories help you envision your own cool ways to create your own stories.

It seems to me, anyway.  But I need to think about this more.

Image:  Photographed with my Nikon D300 and 50mm lens.


Song: Keep it there by The Weepies