Practice in the Believing Game

Alice M. Gillam
1991 Language Arts Journal of Michigan  
Alice laughed. "'There's no use1:Iy1ng,~ she said; Mone can't believe impossible things." VI dare say you haven't had much prac tice; said the Queen. vWhen I was your age. I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as manyas six tmpossible things before breakfast.~ With these lines from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. Peter Elbowbegtns his chapter"'The Doubting Game and the Bel1evtng Game" at the conclusion ofWrtting Without Teachers. In my experience. it is
more » ... y experience. it is practice in the believing game which makes possible writing wlth teachers. Nowhere was this more evident than in a Summer Writing Institute for teachers held at Penn State-Harrisburg, where participating teachers practiced believing in their own writing and each other's writing daily. 1 For three weeks. slxteen teachers-eight high school English teachers, three elementary teachers, one Junior high science teacher, one special education teacher, and two elemen tary teachers-in-training-tmmersed themselves in writing and talk about writing. The believing game began in Elbowesque writing groups, where writers read their work aloud twice and listeners made observations and asked questions; but the game soon spilled over into the halls, the restrooms, the lunch room. and during car trips to and from the institute. Nonwriters, blocked writers, occaSional writers, closet writers, aspir ing writers, all became practicing writers, at least for the duration of the institute. MWhat amazes me every time someone reads, Msaid one new believer, Mis how good she or he is and how effective the writing ls." MSeductivel" said another. "'That's what it wasl All that constant writing, that
doi:10.9707/2168-149x.1634 fatcat:jokc3pzhyzb6beymrfe3lzsxjq