This is the Thoreau quote I write on the board on the first day of class: Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Then, I tell the students that, as creative writers, they most likely have vivid imaginations, daydreams, "castles" they visit in their minds -- all of which is necessary for writers to have. Creativity. However, what's equally important is knowing how to channel that imagination, those daydreams, those castles, into something on the page. It's all well and good to have an idea for a story. But if that story never sees the light of day because of fear or procrastination - or, if it isn't told well enough on the page, what good will come of it?
So, I tell the students that the "foundation" must be placed underneath the dreams. The foundation becomes the tools of a writers' trade - things like technique and format and voice and grammar. These must be present in order for the story to have a proper life. Sure, foundations themselves are boring, solid, stable - the opposite of creativity. But, they're also essential. In fact, without a foundation, a house will eventually crumble and fall. Just like a story.
**a little side note - this week and next week are finals weeks for me, so I'm buried in essay-grading/compiling. I might not post for a couple of weeks, but hope to be back when I have more time. Thanks to those of you who read my blog! I've really enjoyed this experience, and you guys make it that much richer for me!