Family: When student is ready, the teacher will appear

Treena Mielke

Over the past few months, my daughter and I have taught a creative writing course.

We did it despite COVID.

We did it despite the fact that we had no venue.

And we did it despite the fact that we (mostly me), were afraid.

We were afraid no one would come, afraid that if people did come, they would be bored, and mutter statements like “well, that was a waste of time, or perhaps say things like, “what do they think they are doing, they shouldn’t even try to teach creative writing, they know nothing.”

And as our fears and worries played themselves out in our minds, where worry and fear cannot only live, but flourish, I saw us slinking away, out of the public eye, never to be heard from again.

But, with our credentials clutched in our minds like invisible shields against these most unwelcomed thoughts, we forged ahead.

My daughter, who does not like me to talk (brag) about her like a mom, but only as a co-worker, is an accomplished, experienced English and creative writing high school teacher.

I am an out-of-work journalist with no letters behind my name that used to, in another life, have a byline in several newspapers and a few magazines.

We put an advertisement together, tossed in a few facts about our credentials and added the words, “please come.” We put our ad on Facebook.

And, then we hoped a lot.

And lo and behold, people came.

Soon, our class was full. It was like a miracle.

We met in my basement. We social distanced. We wore masks. We drank water. We laughed. We cried. And we chatted lots.

But mostly, we wrote.

My daughter, the teacher, created the course outline and took the class on a delightfully fun and challenging creative writing journey. Along the way, they learned not only about character development and plot, but how to bring their imagination out of hiding, give it a shake and put it to work.

Oh, my goodness, what fun we had as imaginations escaped the confines of everyday life and ended up in the written word scribbled on cheap notebooks with ballpoint pens hastily dug out of the ladies’ purses.

The students listened like students should and absorbed the learning process like sponges.

“I love teaching adults,” my daughter told me, delighted at their lengthy attention span.

As for me, I just sat back and was amazed at all the talent that showed up in that room each week.

Our course is over now, but even as the ladies went out the door for the very last time, there was talk of holding another one. It seems the budding writers want to nurture and grow their craft.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

I very much believe this to be true.

During the creative writing course, I truly felt like I was the student, and the ladies, including my own daughter, my teachers.

I learned so much.

I think I need to share what I learned by holding another class. And I will! But not until next year.

Look out, 2021. We will be back.

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.