Archive for October, 2012

The Fall Winds…

I watched the leaves fall, one by one to the ground throughout the day.  One small, red, oak leaf clung to my window, as if not ready to relinquish its season.  As the winds pick up, more will fall and it reminds me of all those Halloween nights when the boys and I would walk the neighborhood, cheeks pink from the crisp October air and dragging our feet in delight through piles of leaves gathering on lawns.  There was such a sense of excitement in the air, flashlights bobbing, pumpkins glowing in windows and on doorsteps…an occasional ghoul rocking quietly on a porch ready to startle the unaware.  I love Halloween memories, thinking of the decorations, the parties, the giant bowl of candy atop the fridge so as to meter the sugar rush.  We were hippies, and monsters, a cat in the hat, and a bunny…we laughed and secretly stole our favorite candies from each others bowls.  It was a special time in our lives and the falling, dancing leaves reminded me and left me with a smile that carried me through my day.  Have a good week everyone and remember to look for your own special moment to make you smile.  Laurie


Hello Fellow Writers!

So in making my presentation for Saturday I realized that I had committed two sins as far as the blog was concerned.  First, I tried too hard and then was disappointed that no one seemed to care (on the surface anyways) what I was doing. I mean, it does speak to our whole communication system with each other or lack thereof when I ask colleagues twice to check the blog out and maybe make a comment.  I imagine that they felt so overwhelmed with work that I was at the bottom of their list.  Get Over Yourself was another tip I realized I had gone a little over-board with.  I am a person who has so many thoughts swirling in her head, who understands writing and ways to make it fun for students (yes, while meeting standards) that I just wanted everyone to listen, or come to me for help.  Again, perhaps I tried too hard.  So let me answer my own question for you and let’s begin this dialogue.

I truly believe that writing for some is instinctual, that somehow writing is just an extension of their thoughts.  That would be me.  I believe great books add to style and technique….I love words so when I read something that is just beautiful, I jot it down in a little notebook I keep.  I had one teacher who helped, Mrs. Nutting.  She believed in me and she made me feel that I had much so that she entered one of my stories to Scholastic and I won a Junior Writing Award.  You know, I still have that little medal in my jewelry box and am just as proud of it today as I was in 6th grade.  During my teenage years life was hard for our family and I found the poet Rod McKuen. I think i read all of his books and dove into poetry.  It was a way of releasing all the twisted emotions on paper and somehow processing the world around me.  Before our sons were born, I kept a journal every week for them…telling them about my pregnancy, talking to them even before they arrived.  I have those journals tucked in a box for them to have someday when they won’t laugh, ruffle my hair and tease me at all the maternal, sweet love I was pouring onto paper.  When tragedy struck my life again in my 40’s I was so numb that the only way I could untangle all the baggage was through keeping a journal.  I visit them still, the earlier ones and it provides me with a compass bearing on how far I have come.  You know, I always wanted to be either a journalist, and secretly want to publish a novel. I have scenes here and there stored away when I suddenly have a flash of inspiration and I know that I can’t rush it and that the book will take its own course.  Perhaps the only ones who will ever read it will be my sons but that will be okay too.  So, I am curious and anxious to read what your thoughts are on writing so stay in touch!

Monday I was lucky enough to listen to author Barry Lane at a writing conference in Lewiston.  I think I like his approach so much because he injects humor into his lessons and he has a way of taking apart the complex, the boring (to students and teachers) and simplifying the process.  I knew it was a successful trip when my friend and co-teacher wrote on her FB account that this was the best conference she had ever been to.  I have been watching my followed list, and it remains as flat as a cardiac ticker tape on a dead person…sigh.  It is sad to think that the world is so busy with their own lives that they can’t give a blog like this a chance.  Oh, I post my thoughts on FB, I twitter, I Pinterest but still no interest.  Beginning a blog sounded like such a wonderful idea; I had so many thoughts on how I could help people that it made me smile just at the thought.  I asked 50 students what they felt about writing, and what did they find hard…I received one response.  I went to my colleagues and asked them out of curiosity their definition of a good writer….two responses this time.  Perhaps it was the rose colored glasses I was wearing when I began the blog; feeling quite positive that I could provide teachers with tools and tips, just like an on-line file cabinet or a favorite recipe box.  Worrying about math instruction and 50 or more ways to collect data has left teachers exhausted and bound to prescribed programs and worksheets.  Problem is, I feel that in the end it stifles the creativity and spark in students as there is no life in their work.  So I ask you, one more time, just what do you think makes a good writer?  Is it a gift?  Does it come from a textbook, from reading books in general, or is it a gift?  Are you someone who fears it, or embraces it?  For me, writing is an extension through my fingers directly from my thoughts…a conversation I am always having with myself.  It flows as naturally as talking to a good friend and I have moments where I am actually surprised when I reread what I have written….it’s good!  Let me know what you think…I’m all ears. 

ImageCreating the blog was easy; navigating a few simple choices…I could begin and the world would clamor to read my words, right?  Well, if you can see how my son Noah began cooking…these things take time.  Eventually he learned to cook, holding onto his belief that it should be “good and nutritios” and I probably will never have to eat something as creative as this until he has children.  It got me to thinking that writing for oneself, or instructing others in writing is like cooking and a blog of this nature doesn’t have to be the end all beat all to writing, but it can be a resource, a place to turn to when you have no idea what or how to accomplish your daily lesson, a venue for sharing.  As Noah and I talked today, he used the scenario where all of us would be together in a room, each person talented and having their own personal style.  It would take hours to log all of those wonderful bits and pieces on paper stuffed in a filing cabinet. Using the blog creates an online filing cabinet where each ingredient an individual brings to their instruction is at your fingertips.

How many times have we wondered what to have for dinner and, knowing that there are a bunch of recipe cards we could go through, tried and true favorites from our Grams, Mom’s and friends….it IS easier and more current to reach for the laptop and search some of the best recipe sites out there. So like a good recipe, let’s talk about writing and why we are afraid of it sometimes, what lessons or techniques really make you smile at the end of the day…and who the heck has time to read volume after volume of writing instruction, remember it all, and put it into practice! Gimme a snapshot of your best, all time favorite lesson or technique that would definitely NOT be lost in the file cabinet or old recipe box! 

The Home Row of Keys

My fingers sit balanced on the home row of keys, hoping for inspiration while I stare at the blank page.  I haven’t written for two weeks; I feel like I am stumbling around inside of my head.  Too many deadlines, too many commitments which generally is followed by a severe attack of staring off into space thinking about all that should be done and done well.  Some days I don’t feel like a writer of any sort; plodding through page after page of research, dissecting journals for evidence to add to papers, or trying to decipher a 3rd grader’s sentences.  In the early mornings, long before the sun has risen, the cat sits as sentinel on my chest, staring intently at my sleeping face for signs that I might just have heard the alarm clock.  He has needs at that early hour of the morning and is not complacent until he sees an eyelid flutter, a change in my breathing pattern, or in extreme circumstances, react to the gentle pat, pat, pat to my cheek with his paw.  I trudge out to the kitchen, popping open a can of cat food while the Keurig fills my mug. Retreating back to the warmth of bed, I sit in the dark sipping dark roast, and thoughts flow effortlessly and sometimes randomly from my mind to a keyboard.  It is always interesting to look back, a few weeks or months later and reread what I wrote. Quite often it is my way of processing my thoughts as clarity has always come to me from the home row of keys.  Without this ability to express myself, to untangle my own thought processes, create characters who breathe life onto the page, to tell my story I truly think I would be lost.

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