Easy A

Today I head back into the classroom after a week off for Spring Break. Although “off” is relative (I ended up working the whole week), it will be good to get back into the classroom.

I start off at 8:30 with my Narrative Writing class. The Friday before break, the students were supposed to hand in their third short story worth a whopping 20 percent of their grade. Of the 10 students, two didn’t hand in anything. They shouldn’t be surprised by their grade, but they probably will be, as will probably pretty much everyone else. Most believe they are better writers than they actually are.

I consider an A level short story to be of publishable quality. Having been an editor myself, I have a pretty good idea what that is. I continue to get students in who have been told–and truly believe–that if they try their hardest, they deserve an A, regardless of the final product. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

There are some students in my class who are A-level writers. There are still others who will probably never be A writers. And there are some who are B writers, who with a little bit of effort, might make it into the A bracket.

That’s the way it is in the writing world. Some writers are just gifted: they don’t seem to put out much effort to get published, and yet they do. There are others, who despite their best intentions will never get published unless they do it themselves. And then there are the rest of us who have to scramble for that A.

I am a fan of Beethoven, not so much of Mozart. Mozart was a prodigy, and never had to try hard for anything. Beethoven labored to the point of losing his hearing and health because of his love for music. Which one is more deserving of praise? Which one would appreciate it more? Both are excellent composers, you tell me which product was better.

I occasionally read of writers who receive seven-figure advances for their first novel. And I always wonder, what then? If you get a seven million dollar advance right after college, where do you go from there? For me, writing is my life, not something I do just once. And even though I might have to work at it harder than some, I think in the long run I will appreciate it more.

Kind of like that A I am striving for.