writing creatively

i made a pact with a young man today to engage in a form of daily public writing. for me, this means posting to my blog on a more regular basis than i have been doing. we agreed to start with writing for 10 minutes a day. he and i embarked on a creative writing journey last week - i'd like to think that we are co-learners and co-teachers in this experience as we revisit his previous writings together. with each piece of writing he shares with me, i not only learn more about him - as an author, son, brother, student - but also reflect on my own writing self at his age, 17-going-on-18. i, too, had reams and piles and folders filled with papers and notebooks, all covered in my discursive meanderings, scribbles, drawings, reminders, and the like. like him, i, too, often carried all of it with me at all times - in my case, my words felt too fragile to be left lying around for the untrained eye to devour and misunderstand. my personal journal, which i brazenly did keep out in the open, was written in a cryptic french - that is, i wrote in the passive tense and as abstractly as possible, so even if someone was fluent in the language, they would still struggle to make meaning of my entries - as if to dare the trespasser to penetrate my teenage sensibilities.

another young man at the same program has developed a practice of collecting his thoughts in scraps of paper and, more recently, as immediate recordings and messages that he records for himself using his cell phone. when he wants to compose something - lyrics for a song, for example - he knows just which scrap of paper to look for that contains the magical phrase that will unlock the subsequent text.

as i am surrounded almost every day by poets, beat makers, screen writers, essayists, and lyricists, i find myself once again curious about the chaos and crisis that we - educators, researchers, policy makers - impose onto discussions about the practice and craft of writing in the lives of young people today. youth are not writing less - they are writing more and in many more ways and for many more purposes. the questions we should be asking are:
- what do new composing spaces look like?
- how might be we rethink composing pedagogies?
- what kinds of spaces do we provide for multiple forms of writing and composing, more broadly?
- who is shaping/creating/informing the composing space?

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