A teen writes an essay with help from her family.
|Tory wanted to tell her little brother that she couldn't play with him right then. She was busy working on her English essay. Seeing the cute little smile and hopeful look on his face was too much for her, though, so she decided that playing for a bit was in order.
It was appropriate because she couldn't get beyond the first several sentences and needed time to think about how to proceed. Maybe freeing her mind up by playing would help.
She started placing one wooden block on top of another, thinking about how the first three blocks were easy to stack. Her brother watched and imitated her every move, but his stack rose no higher than two blocks before it toppled.
Seeing this made Tory think about her essay, and how she had to build it from the bottom up if it was to make sense. She had finished the first two paragraphs, stating the theme and starting to expand on it.
The theme was about how people learned new things, and about how no learning would take place if the learner gave up because problems got in the way. The problem that had gotten in her way was what to write next.
She showed her brother how to successfully stack blocks but when he tried it,
his stack still toppled after only two blocks. Tory could see how upset he was, so she gathered up the blocks and put them in their container.
Next she got his shape-sorter out and watched as he successfully sorted all the shapes. He beamed with pride, and Tory was pleased that she had allowed him a second way to feel a sense of mastery. If succeeding one way falls through, she realized that trying something else was the route to take.
The play session ended just as her Mom called up the stairs that dinner was ready. Tory grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper, making mental notes that
she could jot down during the meal. She picked up her brother, pleased that playing together had helped them both. They went down to eat.
“What are you writing, dear?” her Mom asked.
“Some thoughts that will help me complete my English essay, Mom.” Tory then explained all about the theme of the paper and how the play session had given her brother a success and given her some ideas on how to finish her homework.
“I agree with everything you've said. For toddlers play is the way to learn to succeed. Thanks for taking the time to play,” she interjected. “When I write, I often take time out for breaks, though they usually are spent either reading the newspaper or a magazine. Whatever I do on my breaks, I always come back to my writing refreshed in some way.”
“There's something else I can share with you, Tory. Remember when I got so frustrated with the novel I was trying to write? While the first several chapters went well enough, the next few got a bit convoluted. By that I mean they seemed to have an incoherence that I couldn't iron out. Not even taking breaks helped.” She stopped talking and wistfully sighed.
“How did you handle that, Mom?” Tory asked.
“By putting the novel aside for a while to concentrate on writing short stories.
What attracted me to that format was their length. Their shortness might seem to some to be detrimental, but it was the shortness that helped me see not every bit of creative writing had to be long in order to achieve theme resolution. The maximum impact of a story depends not on its length. It instead depends on the skill with which the writer builds interest and anticipation, and how carefully he or she crafts a satisfying ending.”
Tory loved listening to her mother, as good a speaker as she was a writer.
“What about an essay, Mom? Can it be as artful as it is informative?”
“Only if it is written from the heart of you. It has to be about something in which you have a stake, something that matters to you and should matter to others. Organization of material may be flawless and get you a top notch grade, but what teachers also look for is dedication to the art form itself.”
Tory had not had time during dinner to jot down thoughts, but she took heart because what her Mom had said was more important. They finished their dinner in silence. She did the dishes while her Mom got her little brother a bath and put him to bed. Tory's Dad was out of town on a business trip.
Tory went upstairs and started up her computer. Before resuming her essay on how people learn, she reminded herself that this was not just an assignment. It was her very first essay, and she wanted to complete it from her heart, as her Mom had suggested.
When the essay was returned to her, she read the teacher's handwritten remarks at the essay's end before even noticing the grade below them.
You did two things well, young lady. You organized your premises, building one on top of the other seamlessly. Your second achievement was to write from the heart, something some writers for one reason or another can't seem to do in the splendid way you managed it.
You should think about joining the Creative Writing Club or the Speech/Debate Club, or join the school newspaper. Talent such as yours is both unique and in demand at this school.
Keep up the excellent work. You have a bright future! Your interest in writing is apparent, as is your eagerness to please.
Your grade is A/A, a testament to your organization as well as your skill.