Being a Guest Speaker · 23 May 2008

I was recently asked to speak to a class of creative writing students. I just had to go down the hall and talk to a couple classes but I still had a bit of trepidation before and during the presentations. It was not a hot day but I my shirt was soaking when I left the second class. I felt a bit nervous like I always do on the first day of class each year. But as I left I realized I had just had a significant experience. I had just finished a guest speaking gig! To talk about writing!

I told Amy, the teacher to whose class I had spoken, that it was my first guest speaking gig, but I was mistaken. Several years ago, another creative writing teacher had asked me to speak to her class. I did not need to leave the building for either speaking engagement but it was still a great experience to be talking to students about writing.

When I get in front of just about anybody, I rarely pass up the opportunity to talk about following their dreams. I always tell the students in my classes that they need to follow their passions and so I took my latest speaking opportunity to tell the students in Amy’s class the same thing. In today’s world it seems that kids are told to follow the dollar rather than what they love to do. And while I let them all know that they do indeed need to make a buck to survive, if they love what they do, they will not work a day in their lives. My hope is that they will be have the opportunity to be like me and think it is wonderful that they get to do what they love and get paid to do it.

I enjoyed talking about not just writing and the writing process but about the other parts of trying to become a professional writer. I talked about my weekly online column. I showed them my websites that have that weekly column and other writings. I talked about how I am in the process of finding a literary agent to represent a children’s book that I finished last year. I told them that Tim, my friend and colleague, helped me set up those websites and finish that book. I told them how he also encouraged me to join a professional writers’ association and enter my book into their literary competition. I also talked about a couple of my high school teachers who helped me to find my voice and fall in love with writing.

I hope I did not step on any English teachers’ toes when I told my students that my favorite English teacher validated my writing process. Ms. Reed said that it was okay that I did not write a first and second and third draft on the way to getting a final piece done. She told me that my way of writing a thousand drafts in my head, writing one rough draft, and then editing to get a final product was a fine process. I never did thank Ms. Reed in person for that validation as I have seldom returned to my high school and never while it was in session. But I have thanked her in my talks about writing. And I thank her now in this column. Thank you, Ms. Reed, for encouraging my writing.

While I may just be an unrecognized author striving for broader publication and recognition, I was grateful for the opportunity to talk to a group of students interested in writing. It was great to be able to tell a couple more groups of students to follow their dreams and find something that they love to do. And I am glad that I could give recognition to some of my mentors and friends. It is not everyday that I get to talk to a group of people about writing. I hope that they enjoyed it as much as I did. If so, then maybe it will not be my last gig as a guest speaker.

© 2008 Michael T. Miyoshi

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