Mario Villalobos

Back to Basics

Next week I start teaching a group of high school students all I know about writing and filmmaking. Instead of getting a class of my own, I’ll be joining a teacher’s Drama class to help her out. I sat in on the class today and watched the students work, and frankly, I’m worried. Many of these kids — and kids is all they are — are treating this class as a free period where they don’t expect to work. I treat my craft seriously, and if these kids don’t care, then they’re definitely going to hate me because I’m going to make them earn their grade. When the teacher informed them that I was going to join their class next quarter, many of the students displayed their approval, which made me smile because they didn’t know I mentioned to the teacher earlier of a starter five page story assignment as my first act as teacher. When she heard their murmurs of approval after introducing me, she informed them of my assignment idea and they quickly quieted down. I am going to have my work cut out for me.

In my Confidant journal, where I write my feelings and thoughts about my novel, I wrote about how I hated what I’ve been writing recently. I feel like I’m rushing through this chapter because I want to get through my writing session as quickly as possible. Ironically, a few days ago I wrote about how much I loved where I was going with the chapter. I’m very fickle, and I don’t know how to explain it. I’m a slave to my emotions. That’s why I believe this opportunity to teach kids about what I love came at a very opportune time. The best way to really understand something is to teach it to other people.

I want to master my craft of writing and teaching it will only make me a better writer. I wrote down a few ideas in Vesper during the class, and even though they were vague and generic ideas for what to teach, the entire process energized me. On Monday, I’m going to meet up with the drama teacher and brainstorm a game plan for when I officially start. Since I scanned every sheet of paper I saved from my time at USC, I was able to pull up syllabi from all the writing courses I took in college and gather ideas from them. My goal — and I hope I’m not jinxing myself here — is to teach them the fundamentals of telling a story. Characters. Conflict. Structure. The basics.

I’ve never taught a course in my life. I don’t have a teaching degree, and I know I’m going to fail a lot during this course. The entire thought, though, excites me. I love writing, and I’ve been given an opportunity to share that with other people. I’m hoping that’s enough to help me get started because these are uncharted waters for me. I’m excited and nervous, but the predominant emotion I’m feeling is fear. Nothing easy is worth doing, though, right? Right.