Fourth from What Do I Do Monday?" by John Hurt
A writer, therefore, needs a strong sense, awareness, not just of himself, but also of his listeners, readers. It follows from this that no one can write well who has not learned, and many times, what it is like to talk long and seriously to a trusted friend (or friends) about things deeply interesting to both of them. Such friends need not be of the same age; one such friend, when I was a boy, was an uncle.
What is vital is mutual trust, respect, and concern. To get or encourage good writing, we must start here. We must make schools and classrooms where there is plenty of time, and spaces large and small, and above all encouragement, for the civilized art of conversation, some public, in groups, much of it private. Edgar Freidenberg has often pointed out how in all but a few schools there are neither times nor places where students can legititimately be by themselves. This would be a bad mistake, if only for its effect on students' writing--and this is among the least of its bad effects.
How often do we shush our children? And not just the toddlers. How often does our frustration with our older children's interruptions to our own conversations lead us to snap at them or otherwise discourage their participation?
Maybe it is only me that stands guilty of this. How often have I excluded there participation in stimulating conversation? How often do I look askance at questions for more information?. How often have I considered it an invasion of privacy for them to enter into a conversation not originally including them?
And by doing so, what have I denied them?
The chance to think through their own ideas. The chance to explore them in an environment of mutual trust, respect, and concern.