Posts Tagged ‘writing helps’

While I was writing this morning, I got a call from Matt. He’s doing a long, long bit. Inmates can call people from the outside if they get the person approved. I’m approved on Matt’s phone list.

I’ve known him for a long time. After his wild oats had been sown and sown and sown, he settled down to help his fellow inmates. “What do I gotta do to become a writer?” he asked me one day.

Writer in Prison

Writer in Prison

“Write. Write every day,” I said.

“Come on, Ed.”

“That’s the secret. Everyday. At least fifteen minutes a day.”


“Come to class every week. And read books about writing. And read books once as a reader, and then read them again as a writer. Find out why the writer did what he did.”

“If I turn in some writing, will you critique it hard?”


“Come on now, Ed. I’ve seen your comments on some of the guys’ stuff. Super. Very good. Keep it up.”

“Some guys need that. I’ll give it to you hard if that’s the way you want it.”

The next week Matt turned in a paper, and I pulled out my red pen.

red pen After class the next week, he argued with me about all the red markings. We went over them one by one.

Matt kept writing. He earned his diploma in creative writing and now writes under a pen name. He didn’t want anything special this morning. He just called to see how I was. It’s rare that a teacher has a student like Matt, one who stays in touch and really appreciates the work we did together.

Was their a teacher in your life who made a difference? Say hi to him or her.