The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lessons From WritingLand

         I have been struggling lately with balancing things. Blogging vs. not blogging regularly. Working on shorter pieces vs. working on a longer project (which is on the side of the road right now...I've got the flashers on, and the sign posted in my back window that says, "Send help" but no help has arrived yet). Being open and free-flowing vs. stifling myself (like Edith Bunker).

       While I'm going back and forth on those seesaws, I will say I've learned a few things in the two weeks or so. Here are some of the things that smacked me upside my head:

      * Regularity is a good thing. If we're constipated when it comes to our creativity and our work ethic, we suffer. After reading Lisa Ricard Claro's post about what we should strive for in our writing and our blogs, I realized I had been very inconsistent when it comes to posting. So, I'm going to be posting on Mondays and least until I get into another rut. (If you go to Lisa's website, not only will you get loads of information, you might also get to take a gander at a hunky hunk--you can get your fill of Philip.)

     * Writing is healing. I've been trying--for the last year--to get a particular story published. It's a story about a friend who is healing after tragedy hit her family. It's a story of strength and forgiveness and unimaginable sorrow.

     I've written the story several different ways, from several different slants, to no avail. This week--finally--I got word that someone might be interested in publishing it in an anthology. Two days ago I read the story aloud to my friend, to make sure there was nothing in there she didn't want laid bare. (Reading things herself hurts her head due to a traumatic brain injury.) By the end, I was crying, as was she.

    And if you want to read one of the most exquisite lines about healing and pain, go to this article on Jean Ellen Whatley.  (A "security box" might pop up, but just cancel and you'll land on the article.)

*  And I know that three is a magical number when it comes to writing...but I only got two things rattling around in my brain today. (And since technically two means I can claim I'm talkin' 'bout plural lessons, I can avoid being corrected.)

    Have a great rest of the week, and place your bets on how long I can last posting twice a week--on a regular schedule. And if you want to comment on the importance of regularity (but don't get too brown about it) or about Lisa Ricard Claro's brilliance or the poignancy of Jean Ellen Whatley's words--I'd love to hear from you.



Monday, August 4, 2014

The Importance of Heroes

       This year I put up some framed 8 X 10s in my classroom. Seven pictures of seven of my heroes. (I have more, but I have limited wall space.)

        And they are:

John Reynolds Gardiner

      If you have not read his book--Stone Fox--a children's book that is only about 100 pages, you should run out right now and borrow it from the library or buy it. Every year I use it, I cry (even though I swear I won't cry this time). He spoke once to a group of teachers and confessed that when he sent it to his editor, there were 138 mistakes (spelling/grammatical). That proves to me that the power of the story is victorious over everything else.

Mae Jemison

        Mae Jemison was the first African American woman into space, which is incredibly impressive all by itself, but I look up to her more because of the little girl she used to be. One of her teachers (kindergarten? first grade?) asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Mae said, "I want to be a doctor." Her teacher said, "Don't you mean nurse instead of a doctor? Don't you want to be a nurse instead?" Mae matter-of-factly replied, "No, I want to be a doctor."

       She became a doctor...and then an astronaut. So there!

         My other on-the-wall heroes are: Nikki Grimes, Jackie Robinson, Anne Lamott, Emily Dickinson and Jesse Owens. (I had trouble narrowing them down to seven and had to make sure all of them were appropriate for children. Otherwise Vince Gilligan would certainly have a place on the wall, but there is no way I could explain the exquisite beauty of Breaking Bad to eight-year olds. No way.) 

      As I'm writing this, I realize how many of my heroes are nose-thumbers. Perhaps not John Reynolds Gardiner, and I don't know about Nikki Grimes, but I imagine Anne Lamott has thumbed her nose at someone at some point in her life, and although he never did it in public, I'm hoping Jackie Robinson mentally made some gesture with a finger or thumb. I'm impressed with Jesse Owens' athletic accomplishments (they're wicked impressive, after all), but the nose he thumbed--aimed at Hitler--is what makes me look up to him in such awe.

     I'm going to ask you the same question I'm asking of my students: Who are your heroes?