This week it's all about writer and photographer Steven Berkowitz who's talking about, well a lot of people.
One of the reasons I asked Steven to take part is that I love his macro photos of insects. The photos are startling to say the least, but also very beautiful. We see bees and wasps everywhere, but they are just pass through our world, they're a hidden secret. Unless you happen to be a man with a camera, and eye for a great photo, and a lot of patience!
IAAY is published every Wednesday (yes, all of them), so there's plenty of time for you to join in too! Contact me via the comments section or via Twitter: @mickdavidson.
You can also read my blog about writing and randomly related stuff.
It’s All About Steven Berkowitz
It’s All About His Students
When I began to think about who had inspired me to first start writing, I struggled with which author or artist I would choose. While I recently have jumped back into reading the genre I love to write, no author has changed the direction of my life. Sure, there are some authors whose style I love, but to say they inspired me to write would be a lie.
The events which inspired me to write occurred back in the spring of 2009. I was teaching English in Taiwan to students who really didn’t want to learn from the textbooks I was given. They were bored, tired, and unengaged. I thought about how I was going to inspire my own students to enjoy learning a foreign language. A language that would help open doors for them later on in life. While trying to inspire my own students to learn English, I was inspired to write.
One night, while sitting on my couch in Taipei mulling over how to engage my students, an idea popped into my brain. Stories! I had seen everyday that my students loved to draw; they doodled in their textbooks and on the whiteboard before class. So I thought to myself, why not create stories for each and every class, and have them use their imaginations to illustrate the tale.
What happened next was amazing, I brought this idea to class and it was an instant hit. They sat quietly (couldn’t believe it) while I told and wrote a story on the board in front of them. Later, they drew imaginative illustrations which we posted on the walls of the classroom. By the end of the year the walls were covered in stories and illustrations. Eventually we started creating stories together as a class; on the fly, they would give me ideas and characters, and I would weave them into a tale.
When it was time for me to leave Taiwan, one of my students who loved to draw elaborate illustrations told me that I should write stories for a living. This student, Michael, seared the idea of writing into my mind, and I will never forget the inspiration that he and his classmates gave to me that year.
It’s All About Me
It was not until after I returned home from teaching abroad in Taiwan and China that I decided to finally write. I had been teaching English overseas for 3 years, after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Massachusetts. My career and life in the US needed to begin, but which path to take was a question that was hard for me to answer. The problem was that business seemed to bore me, while teaching excited and continuously challenged me with every new student. I eventually decided to seek a career doing what I love: teaching.
I enrolled at Lesley University in the fall of 2010 seeking a Masters degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts in Learning. The creative arts part of my degree is what drives me to write. I did not want to just be a typical elementary school teacher. I love to write, shoot nature photography, garden, cook, create and tell unique stories. I wanted to bring that love for all of my hobbies into my future classroom.
My very first graduate class, Arts and Education: History and Philosophy, gave me the opportunity to challenge myself to write a story. My inspiration came from class discussions regarding questioning in the classroom. We were discussing the merits of questioning and the Socratic method of inquiry, when the idea for a world without question came racing into my mind. I had lived in China, where some questions were not allowed, and I decided to use those experiences to create a world where no questions would be tolerated. Chocrotes and the World Without Question was born in that classroom in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
From there I sat down and wrote an outline of the very first story I would ever create. That first outline was expanded upon; as was the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth one. I worked out a plot until I was satisfied with what the world would look like. As this was written for a term paper, and for children, I felt like I should keep it simple. This first story is simple yet serious, focusing on the merits of questioning while keeping my audience, ages 9 and up, entertained and curious.
I have also written other stories and shared them with my enthusiastic target audience. My next book, to be released around December of this year, will follow a young girl who gets lost in the forest behind her family home and stumbles upon a doorway to another dimension. This other world will hold devious elves and fairies who sing and dance to haunting tunes, while the heroes of the story are trapped in time and vines by Elvish magic.
To end this IAAY, I will include some of my favorite macro photography I have taken over the past two years. I hope you enjoy these two critters! Yellow spider and Spicy Dragon #3.