Thursday, November 03, 2005
I occasionally get recruited to come in and help out with the writing curriculum at YG's school. The fifth grade are involved in writing tall tales, and I went in to talk to the kids and look at their stuff. What's fascinating is that a lot of them, who I'm sure have the full complement of kid imagination, are so preoccupied with getting it right that they're afraid to take a chance on anything. "Is this a good name for my character?" "Well, do you like it?" "Um, yes, but is this a good name?" "It's your story..." and so on. The teacher and I came up with some ideas for the sorts of tall tales that explain local features--why the top of Bernal Hill is bald, how the Bay came to be, how Alcatraz Island was formed, etc. I immediately had six ideas for tall tales, and the kids were rather bewildered: how could I come up with all those ideas? It's a muscle, I explained. If I spent all day doing lay-ups and jump shots, my basketball skills would be pretty good. I spend all day thinking about stories, so I have plot skills. I think most of them would rather be playing basketball.