Monday, September 13, 2010

What's Your Literary Autobiography?

September is my favorite month, probably because I was always ready for school after a long summer, even one spent riding around in the bookmobile my father drove and reading all day long. I have a feeling most if not all the writers on this blog loved school as well and were the students who read more than anyone else in class.

Each year when I begin teaching my editing fiction class, I give my students two assignments. One is to pick out 10 books of different genres by authors they've never read, of which they'll read five during the semester; the other assignment is a two-page "literary autobiography" telling me how they started reading, how they learned they loved it, what books they loved, and also when they started writing. Some of my students wrote their own little books when they could barely write; the mother of one student wrote her daughter's journal for her when she was just four or five. Their stories are all so fabulous that I wish I could make a book out of their stories; however, knowing what I know about a book’s marketability, I don't think the book would sell beyond the students and their parents. Maybe BYU Archives would like copies. I'm definitely going to ask.

We've occasionally shared favorite books and early writing experiences on this blog, and it's kind of magical just to hear the name of a favorite book. Can you imagine anything more fun than taking a class with 30 other people who all love books, as you do? Tomorrow they turn in a short response to their first novel of the five they read; I don't expect everyone to love love love the book they've chosen since we don't love all the books we read. A few times I've had two different students read the same book with exactly polar reactions. And I've stopped recommending my favorite books since several students have disliked books I've liked. But we can all share the feeling of loving a book so much we stay up too late at night, we don't do laundry or dishes, we cancel appointments, or take the book along with us to read for as long as we can.

I realize I haven't said anything new or terribly helpful in this blog. I just want to take a few minutes to sing the praises of September--and books.

No comments: