When someone asks me what I want to do when I grow up I always say, “I want to write a children’s book.” (OK, so I am close to retirement and nobody really ever asks me in that way, but if someone does ask me about wishes and dreams that always tops my list.) I have just been busy teaching and mothering and making the most of the time left over, but I do think about it for “sometime.” And until now, I haven’t written a thing.
Nothing is better to me than reading a good book and getting lost in the story. As a teacher I know the connection between reading and writing is real, so real you can’t truly separate the two. So from time to time I would try to make a list of things to write about to make a tale of my own but I never could think of a story worth telling. And so, I didn’t write a thing.
Way back when I was in high school we had an annual student literary publication and to me the work therein was unbelievable. Yes, there was a bit of teen-aged angst in some of the writing, but generally it was inspiring work by talented writers. I never attempted to have anything accepted for the book. I knew my work wouldn’t be good enough. And except for school assignments, I didn’t write a thing.
Through the years as a classroom teacher of writing I have gone through phases of instruction – pattern writing, writing to a prompt, monthly writing folders, journal writing, Six Traits, Lucy Calkins Units of Study, and even helped plan a yearly writing curriculum using Ralph Fletcher’s Craft Lessons. I have introduced and entertained speakers who came to our district for writing workshops. I have taught some very good writing lessons, and seen some excellent writing by my students. And except for a few model pieces, I didn’t write a thing.
Then along came this year’s Slice of Life Writing Challenge. Hmmm, let’s see, all I had to do was set up a blog and write every day for a month. Wait – I didn’t know how to set up a blog and I don’t know when I have been consistent with anything long enough to do it every day for a month! But, somehow (Divine Intervention, I am sure), I began. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. And now here I am halfway through without missing a day – and at last I have written MANY things!
I can already look back at some of my posts and cringe. But at last I have a growing body of work that is all mine. I am writing! I AM WRITING!! For good or for not-so-good, I am putting thoughts into words and being brave enough to post them on my very own blog! One day I will even post a little something in the “About Me” section and maybe I will tell my friends the address of the blog. I have told some what I am doing, but I am not courageous enough – yet – to really own it and own up to it. But I am getting there and I know that too will come. And I am writing.
My patient and encouraging husband thinks this is great. (I did share my blog address with him and he reads it all. Thanks, Honey!) He is an accountant and generally not much of a reader: however, he knows how I love books and he does not begrudge giving me the time I need to spend with them. But he gets this reading-writing connection. I know this because the other day he said, “Do you think that all the books you have read through the years have helped you with this writing?” Yes! Oh, yes! Without the time with those books, without the close reading, without the wistful aspiration for something like that of my own, I know I could not now or ever write one thing.
Being a part of this community, however anonymously, has given me so much already. To Ruth and Stacey, I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful idea and for the time and talent you have invested in it. And to those of you who have replied along the way I am deeply honored and I appreciate your time and your responses. One precious soul commented that one piece reminded her of Cynthia Rylant’s In November – when I read that, there was a moment I just couldn’t breathe. Don’t worry – I know I have a l-o-n-g way to go – but I am writing!