books, Chinese culture, Chinese history, Creative Writing, English class, Feng Jicai, footbinding, History, Just Write, Life, Literature, reading, Splendid Slippers, teacher, teaching, The Three-Inch Golden Lotus, World Lit, writing
Many times when writers sit down at their desk or in front of their journals or blank computer screens, there’s a pressure to produce something wonderful. There’s an invisible weight that sits on the shoulders, that presses on the mind, daring you to attempt to create…it just dares you to prove it wrong, to prove that you can overcome that first hurdle and start writing.
However, that pressure just doesn’t lay on the minds of those who write for work or the fun of it – it also heavily rests on the minds and shoulders of students. At the beginning of this week, my World Literature classes began their unit that revolves around the history of Chinese footbinding and have begun reading the novel, The Three-Inch Golden Lotus by Feng Jicai. Yesterday, my students also read some myths and legends about footbinding from the book, Splendid Slippers.
After having read these myths and the first chapter of the novel, my students have been given a creative writing assignment. They get to choose to either 1) create their own footbinding myth or 2) write as a Chinese girl or woman and write their own journal/personal account of the experience. This was an assignment that I had students do last year, but I did not have the myths and legends for them to read beforehand, and I can tell already that reading those has made a world of difference.
After classes yesterday, I heard students already coming up with ideas for their very own creation myths. I had students asking if they could start writing it at home because they already had ideas. I said, “Of course!” Then this morning, I had a student stop me on my way in the building to ask if he could go over the “aimed for” writing length. Again my response was, “Of course!” He continued to tell me that he had started typing it at home and was already past that length…he was worried he would have to cut his story short. That was when I stopped him and said, “I don’t want you to worry about length. I’m excited to read what you have written.” and then I told him, before continuing to my classroom, “Just Write!”
That is one piece of advice that I need to remember for myself when I am struggling to beat that pressure that rests on my mind…Just Write.