The judgment

Self-sabotage

The act of questioning yourself about your ability to do a certain job. Self-sabotage is inherent to age, gender, or ability, everyone is subject to self-questioning. There is a difference between analyzing and recognizing deficiencies that can be improved and doubting the ability to develop something that you have always been capable of.

Hi, my name is Tássia, and I sabotage my writing daily. I have spent years teaching my students to write and the importance of believing in their capacity for imagination and creation, yet I find myself in an extreme moment of inertia.

I open my Google Drive every day and look at a huge list of untitled documents with an initial idea and some random notes, but I don’t develop them. Sometimes it’s not even the distraction around, I wake up early on purpose when my house and the city are silent, I drink my coffee listening to the birds and jealously watch my cats sleep, that no matter where I want to start my day, they accompany and arrange a space to sleep around there.

Today, once again, I found one of these untitled documents. Follow…

How does Tássia K****** R******** declare herself in the face of the accusation of the destruction of the writer’s career plans of hundreds of students?

Guilty, Your Honor.

  • Faculty
  • Discouragement in writing in the face of so many analyzes of works
  • Paulo Coelho
  • The education system in Brazil
  • ENEM
  • Project blog Fail

Is the defendant ready for her verdict?

Yes, your honor.

Tássia K****** R******** is declared guilty. The sentence to be served is a formal and public apology to all your students

  • Formal apology

I remember that one of the techniques I used to teach my students was to write down all the ideas, write down the text and leave it in the drawer for a few days and review it only later when you’ve forgotten what you’ve written and can analyze it without trying to defend the quality of the text, but with the aim of improving it.

In the case of the example above, I left it in the “drawer” for more than a year and as a result, I not only saw the idea impartially but had almost completely forgotten what I intended. However, today I won’t let myself be beaten down by self-sabotage and I will challenge myself to fill in the gaps of a premise that seems lost. Good luck to me.

Court of the uselessness of Tássia’s mind.

How does Tássia K****** R******** declare herself in the face of the accusation of the destruction of the writing career plans of hundreds of students?

Guilty, Your Honor.

Is there anything you would like to say in your defense, to lessen your sentence?

– Your Honor, I have always been passionate about writing. I wrote song lyrics as a teenager and dreamed of hearing them on the radio. When I had to choose my career, I didn’t know if I had any chance to pass the entrance exam of competitive courses and therefore I limited myself to looking for a course that would guarantee me some chance to accommodate part of my dreams. Modern Languages was an alternative to improve my writing and, probably, learn how to write with quality.
I don’t know how to quantify how wrong I was. Soon after the first analysis of poems and books, the notebook where I used to write stopped accompanying me.

I didn’t agree with most analyses, nothing could make me believe that poets had really written with so much symbolism and so little emotion. The teachers gave me the idea that to write a good poem it was necessary to memorize the dictionary of symbols. Because a color is not just a color and the moon doesn’t just mean that the night is spectacular. 

One of my favorite classes to date was when they said that Clarice Lispector (Brazilian writer) had gone to a book review about a work she had written and at the end of the review she told the teacher that she had loved what she had heard, but it didn’t reflect reality. If the fact is true I don’t know, but it motivated me to stop paying so much attention to the analysis for a while, but not to the point of writing again.

I remember how much people admired Machado de Assis and many others hated Paulo Coelho. When asked the reason for the aversion to the second, they said it was because his books were very similar. Apparently, few people have read all of Machado de Assis’ works. Or how people love João Guimarães Rosa with his neologisms, a book without chapters and long paragraphs, but refuse to accept a young man who uses popular language in a text. I can’t understand what literary critics really expect from a writer who is still favored by a minority who dictates who the best writers in the country are.

After college, I started teaching high school writing classes and college entrance exams. I didn’t understand why there was such a demand for creative writing teachers when it’s the best subject to teach. You can talk about comics, anime, and movies for an entire class and count them as subjects given within the narrative type. 

It wasn’t until I received the first essay packages to correct that I understood why few teachers were brave enough to work with such a discipline. I confess that I don’t miss the nights I spent correcting essays, but I miss being surprised by the texts that students were able to write.

The big problem is that the curriculum in Brazil is focused on ENEM. With students up to 9th grade, I had the right to explore their creativity, ask them to write funny texts, create advertisements for fictional products, create games, and much more. When they started high school, most schools turn their attention to the entrance exam and even the teacher gets bored of the classes themselves. 

I’m not going to lie, I had certain freedom, or at least I gave myself the freedom to, at times, run away from it a little in some schools and the result fills me with pride to this day. I cite two examples of the many that I can now remember. 

At the beginning of my career, I was in charge of working with Cordel (Brazilian literature). I confess that I knew very little about Cordel. I presented the project in the most sincere way possible to my students. “I didn’t choose the theme, but I think we can do it our way and have a little fun instead of suffering”. I wish I had kept to myself the text that the students made about a football match. I remember seeing the whole class having fun with each other’s texts. The room they decorate on the day of the presentation was spectacular and I have no merit in this part, they did it all by themselves.

Many years later, already in another school, in another city, and many years of experience later. I asked the first year of high school to produce a video. They could choose a theme, but certain requirements had to be met. It was important to plan, delegate and produce. 

One group decided to go to the city mall and interview the people who were there. Afterward, they got together and watched the video to comment on what they thought of the answers. This was long before “react” was trending on the internet. I was impressed with their editing, courage, and resourcefulness. Not to mention the bloopers at the end.

ENEM (Brazilian main test for university entry examination) limits the creative capacity of students. I understand the importance of writing and demonstrating the ability to develop an argument text and express an opinion. Be able to write a coherent text with a beginning, middle, and end. However, because having a good grade on ENEM is essential to guarantee a place at a good university, schools and parents want students to be a typewriter for argumentative texts, and writing goes far beyond that.

It’s not the first time I’ve created a blog, I’ve had others. Some I don’t remember the password and maybe I forgot to delete, I had a blog with some students just before I stopped being their teacher. Maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea I had, but I really wanted them to keep writing.

As for my current blog, it is a little abandoned I confess, but I already paid for the renewal of the online address for another year and I promise to pay more attention to it in the very near future. After all, the best way to teach is through examples and I want to show that there is no right time to become a writer.

In short, my trajectory with writing has been one of ups and downs and I cannot deny that this may have affected my teaching in the classroom. I know that there were many times when I told my students not to pursue a teaching career, as it was an arduous profession with little recognition. I know I’ve written harsh criticisms in some comments, especially for students I believed to be talented. I just wanted them to maintain the quality of their texts. I know maybe I overlooked someone who really had an interest in writing but needed more time and attention, but there was a period when I had over 200 essays to correct a week. I know I really destroyed some students’ dreams of being a writer, but it was never intentional, on the contrary, I always wanted them to never stop writing.

Does the accused have anything else to add?

No, your honor.

Is the defendant ready for the verdict?

Yes, your honor.

Tássia K****** R******** is declared guilty. The sentence to be served is a formal and public apology to all your students

Dear student,

I don’t know at what point in life our teacher-student relationship was established, but I would like to ask your forgiveness. Sorry for the times I didn’t hear your question, or I didn’t answer you in a way that really clarified your question, and, therefore, you couldn’t produce the text with quality.

Sorry for the time I was late to return your corrected essay, you had to write without reading the comments on your last text and therefore could not avoid the mistakes of the previous text. Some weeks were intense and with many articles to correct, but this does not justify the interference in your learning.

Sorry for not having time to calmly explain where you could improve. My dream was to be able to do mentoring sessions, to have an environment where any student who had questions or wanted to improve their text could be followed individually, without the noise of the class around them, and without the responsibility of having to keep students busy while answering to an individual issue.

Sorry for being unfair in your grade. Most likely your text came after another very striking one and as impartial as I tried to be, there were times when tiredness no longer allowed me to make assertive decisions. For example, calling a day and continuing correcting another time.

Sorry for not being a teacher who was so clear and that you still had doubts at the end of the class. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that I’ll never be able to teach everyone in one class. Each one has a different way of learning and it is extremely delicate, as a teacher, to serve everyone in 40 minutes.

And finally, sorry if because of me you thought you weren’t good enough to write. I never intended to have a writer’s dream interrupted as mine has been for so many years. I hate to imagine that anyone took to leaving their poem notebook at home because of me.

Sincerely,

Tássia.

The last step of self-sabotage for a writer is when a dreaded question starts to echo in their mind: “Is it good enough to publish?”.

Therefore, if you find any errors in some of my texts, it is because I was trying to avoid giving up on publishing the text and I did so with some edits to be made.

Published by Tassia Kespers

Escritora, professora, tradutora, revisora, mãe e exploradora nas horas vagas.

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