#last100days

This post started out as one for Five Minute Friday, but now it is Saturday. Every Friday Kate posts a word and invites writers to compose for 5 minutes and share.

Today I care that there are 99 days left in 2021. I have thought about several different #last100days2021 projects and cannot find the lists I made. Today I wrote about the things I don’t care about in my notebook but I won’t share them here.

This morning I spent several hours writing. One of the rituals I have is to first write about my dreams if I remember them or have any. Then I write down the prompts that I am thinking about for the day.

Everyday I use the Sarah Selecky prompt which if you follow me at all know that I write to everyday. This month I have been recording the Storyaday prompt and the #septembersentences prompt from Caroline Donahue.

Next month there will be a prompt to write a poem a day.

In the past my 100 day project have been writing prompts, one sentence that turned into a story after the challenge was over, and the 100 rejections that morphed into 100 submissions. The 100 submissions project yielded a collection I published.

I am thinking about tarot and writing which I explore daily as well. I just received the Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones cards and may use that as a 100 day project. I am having trouble committing to a project.

What Else I Have Been Thinking About

Last year I applied for an MFA. There are loads of reasons and I want to be a better writer but not sure that is the path to take. I came late the idea of an MFA to begin with and I have a bit of a feeling that I missed out on something.

I have also come to know that I have cultivated a writing life and looks like a self-directed MFA.

In a traditional MFA you cannot choose the cohort you are with. Hopefully, the selection committee pays attention to this personality piece but I am not sure how that works. I have found in larger writing classes you cannot chose the cohort either. Sometimes you mesh and sometimes you don’t.

I have cultivated my own tribe of writers across several groups. There are different purposes for different groups. Some are writing in general, critique and study groups.

Exercises and close reading are learnings I participate in often. As an educator, I have given myself assignments. Actually, even before then I was! On my bookshelves, paper and digital, there are more writing craft books than I want to count. The fiction collections and novels are mentor texts.

I could go on and on about this topic. Nicole Rivera from Stop Writing Alone did a podcast episode about her thoughts around MFA’s and made the point that she is of the generation that when you wanted to learn something, you got a degree in it. I am of the same generation. I do take workshops and classes and am contemplating if that is enough.

Which leads me to a long winding path to the #100dayMFA. I am toying with this idea and writing out what I do on a daily basis to cultivate the writing life I live now. There are many components that include, but not limited to:

  1. Close reading with lists
  2. Craft talks/readings/podcasts (learning)
  3. Community
  4. Writing schedule
  5. Projects
  6. Immersion days
  7. List of exercises/assignments
  8. How and what to share (blog?newsletter?)

The bottom line is I have not exactly decided what I want to do with these last 100 days even though I had the countdown in my Passion Planner.

I would love to hear your thoughts about my 100 day project ideas or your own project!

Welcome Fall!

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

I feel like the welcoming committee to the new season this year. I happily am kicking summer out of the guest room and welcoming my friend Autumn into the house with her red hair and flowing burnt leaf colored clothing. She smells of coffee, pumpkin, spice, and cider and glows in a way no one else does.

It has been a disorienting last couple of weeks for me and I am happy for the transition of a new season on the tail of a full moon.

On Tuesday I wrote about ten delights of Fall. You can read that here.

I am ushering in today with writing, reading, and people watching. I am reading The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender and have been inspired by her sentences. It has been a long while since I had a novel that I could crawl in to and absorb the magic.

This novel strikes me in a way that makes me think of other connections I have and want to write about them. It is a novel I keep wanting to come back to. It is on my kindle so I have been reading it on my phone which is not always ideal for me. I love her writing and weirdness but there are so many triggers for me to write coming from the ideas and the language and how she puts sentences together. I have this notion to rewrite all the highlights so I can feel where the magic is coming from inside her construction. I haven’t felt this drawn to a book in a long time. The Night Circus is really the only fiction book that comes to mind.

Anyone else get this feeling from an author or a book?

I need to find some good Autumn poems to read. I have been enjoying my Paris Review email with poems. Ada Limon is the new host of the podcast The Slowdown. She leads with a reflection of her own and then reads a poem. It has been delightful.

I am looking forward to using my Writing Down the Bones cards that will come in the mail today! I adore Natalie Goldberg.

I have been doing much reflection over the past week and coming to some truths about my life and the perception of it!

I welcome the warmth and the hygge of the season for sure!

Still Trying #SOL21

On most Tuesdays I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog . Teacher writers read and then comment on at least three others posts.

For the first time in at least a month, I began my day with an hour of writing. The plan was to sleep a little later and then write before work. The plans were changed a bit.

I wrote with my coffee and then we went on a short walk.

I have been back to work for a month and have still not found a new rhythm that feels right. I had to change rooms last week which threw me off. The longer early morning and afternoon walks seem to wear on me. It takes the whole weekend to recover. I know the experts say you cannot make up sleep, but that is what I seem to be doing. Focus and certain details seem to be lost.

This fall seems different than others in the past. I am doing many of the same things as the past: I write, I work, I walk, I learn but it all seems off somehow. I am hoping there will be some cooler weather that will come and stay.

The students have been in classrooms since September 1st and working with them has been wonderful. The teachers are lovely as well of course!

This situation is one where I wonder if I have to let go or try to manipulate it more. I know there needs to be more flexibility to the coaching job and schedules can change on a whim depending on student and teacher needs.

Hopefully, getting my room in a little more order will help today too!

Have you found your new rhythm?

I would love to hear in the comments.

Planners #SOL21

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog and then read and comment on at least three others posts.

There are less than two weeks left of summer for me and I feel it looming. One of the things that I had to get squared away was to order my planner for going back to school.

I am the person that makes notes and has to write everything down or it doesn’t happen.

For productivity, I use a paper planner and my Google calendar to help me stay on top of my professional to do lists. The digital more so for the notification alerts.

For some reason I struggle with the cost of a paper planner. Last year I bought at least two from big box stores trying to avoid paying the $40 for the passion planner. Collectively, I spent more than that and was irritated everyday with the one I made myself use. The spiral was all wrong and got caught on the pages often.

I am not making that mistake again.

During the pandemic there was a Passion Planner $7 sale and I was pleased as punch to be using it again. To celebrate my new coaching position I bought the academic weekly planner this year. It has shipped and I am excited for it to get here. I went with the plain black style and will decorate it with stickers.

I started color coding several years ago and blocking time out on the weekly spread. I plan to use the grids on the monthly pages for doodles or word of the day challenges as well.

As a coach, I tend to make more universal lists that I refer back to so the blank pages in the back will come in handy.

Where do you stand on planners? Digital or paper? Do you have a preferred planner type? Do you add something unique to your calendar pages?

I would love to hear in the comments.

Ponderings #SOL21

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog and then read and comment on at least three others posts.

I don’t check my school email everyday in the summer, but I am waiting for a response to something so am checking it more often. Early this morning, I saw an email from my principal that struck my heart strings to click.

As I read of the person she has become over the last 25 years in the district I knew the line that was coming next.

My principal is leaving and moving to another corporation.

This actually makes a few decisions easier for me moving forward but it still makes me sad.

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I am more myself when I can walk every day and luckily I am in a space where I can this summer. I have been walking 10-13 miles a day and this makes me happy. I can think about writing and listen to podcast and allow ideas to come to me.

One of the podcasts I love to listen to is the MFA podcast hosted by Jared. The interview this morning is about the University of Minnesota. It was a fabulous episode.

I struggle with the desire to apply and attend an MFA program. The immersion is what appeals to me. I know I can create a DIYMFA. There is even a book and website. There is something about the time set aside for just writing and talking about writing that appeals to me. I know from past experience that you cannot always handpick the community that comes with these programs. I am so honored to have cultivated a rich community of writers I would not trade no matter what class I took!

In any of your creative writing experiences what was the book and/or the writing exercise that made a lasting impression for you?

Writing is a passion for me that existed way before I taught. The skills I learned from teaching and marketing from various professions I have had have led me to where I am now and I am so grateful.

One of my greatest joys is teaching writing to all ages.

Want to join me? I am teaching a second round of my Fabulous Flash Fiction class starting August 4th. Come join the fun! Details and registration are here.

Brevity – An Exercise in Craft

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

One of the podcasts I listen to every week is the Stop Writing Alone podcast from Nicole Rivera. Several weeks ago Nicole talked about choosing a book from your bookshelf and working through it.

I love craft books and own a lot of them. I have done a lot of the exercises in several like

Writing Open the Mind,

Wild Mind , Writing Down the Bones and the True Secet of writing all by Natalie Goldberg.

I have done almost all the exercise in Going Short by Nancy Stohlman. I also took a course with Nancy using her book.

The Rose Metal Press Flash Fiction Field Guide is also one I have done many exercises from.

One book I have dipped in and out of it Brevity by David Galef. I purchased this book on the recommendation of Nancy Stohlman in March of last year.

Ever since I heard Nicole talk about choosing a book and committing to doing the exercises in it I knew the Brevity book was the one I needed to dig into.

Today I started with the first chapter about vignettes. I like this book because there is instruction and then at least one mentor text illustrating the points of the form highlighted. I wrote a vignette that I don’t like very much but the form will be on my mind for the rest of the day.

This is not the only writing I did today. I did my five minute Friday exercise. I also did my Sarah Selecky daily prompt in addition to morning pages.

What book would you like to work through but haven’t made the plan to do so yet?

***This not only works with writing exercise books but also cookbooks! I have worked my way through a couple of cookbooks beginning to end.

Truth #SOL21 #10minchallenge

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog. Then I read and comment on at least three others posts.

The truth is…

I am hosting my own challenge this month

The prompt today was:

There are several ways a story can be true. 

Perspective and lens make a huge difference.

The brain changes a memory each time we recall it slightly which is why when you try to compare a situation with another person who was there you remember it differently.

Today I want you to set your timer and begin with the stem:

THE TRUTH IS

Just let your brain take you where it wants to go. You might write about the same truth the whole time or you may make a 2 mm shift of truth like a kaleidoscope. You may switch between several truths.

Allow what comes.

The truth is perspective. What is true for me is not always how others around me see it. As I get older, this seems to be more true than I ever thought before. But this idea also complicates things when you deal with people who deal in black and white. Five year old perspectives are different than adults for sure.

The truth is I am looking at some changes come August. I am uncertain how it will play out, but I know that I have taken steps and just have to wait now. The truth is I am impatient.

The truth is I returned from Florida on Sunday. I had an amazing time for my son’s graduation trip but it was a long time to be away from home.

The truth is June went even faster this year than it normally does. It is already the 6th of July and I am not ready. Time is flowing too easily.

The truth is I am examining what needs to stay and what needs to go. I am choosing to focus on the light, abundance, and wonder of it all. One thing that will stay is my 10 mile walks. I went earlier today so it wasn’t so hot.

If you would like to join this free challenge sign up here and you will start getting the emails tomorrow!

https://mailchi.mp/18cdb0dbd335/10min10days

things on my mind #SOL21

Each Tuesday I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog.

things I’m

watching….

Below Deck. A new season started and we are able to watch it on Peacock. They are releasing the shows a week ahead of schedule so that is exciting. I am looking forward to Big Brother and it starts in July.

loving…

the horses on my walking route. There are horses on every walking route. I am logging in 10 miles a day since the school year closed.

reading…

A poem, a short story or flash piece, and an essay every day in June. I am reflecting on what I am reading and how it connects to revision this month.

missing…

my middle school writers group. I had several groups of middle schoolers who were some of the best thinkers and writers. we talked about short stories and wrote our own. it was a magical time.

ordered…

quick dry shorts with zippered pockets. I am traveling next week and need a place to stash my phone where it won’t fall out of my pocket.

Loving…

my library. Almost every book I look for, they have a copy of! It is amazing. I can put holds on books through the Library Extension through Google and that saves me time as well.

listening…

to favorite podcasts. One of the ones I look forward to is MFA Writers. I am excited a new episode dropped today and I will listen on my walk

Transition to Break #SOL21

Every Tuesday I blog and share at twowritingteachers.org. Teacher writers share and comment on at least 3 posts.

Transition Time.

This is my first TWT post since I am officially on summer break. It still doesn’t seem real to me. Over the weekend I kept telling myself, “These are days I would have off anyway…it doesn’t count.”

Each year I go through this transition where I switch over from the main labels of educator to wife, mother, writer.

These identities are always part of me, of course, but the priority of the labels switch places for a while when the demands on my time are changed.

I used to have a school hangover for more than a week. I would be in a panic thinking I was forgetting something. I used to pack up a lot of stuff to bring home over the summer as well.

In recent years, the transition has gotten easier.

For instance, I didn’t bring home a carload of stuff. I am also not worried about my classroom being used for summer school. I would have in the past.

You see, I don’t really like change I have come to realize. I like patterns and structures THAT I ESTABLISH. If they happen TO me, then I resist.

If I feel I have no choice, I resist.

Honestly, I am a rebel, so sometimes even my own rules I resist.

[If you want to know more about rebels…or questioners…or obligers…check out Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies quiz.]

A long time ago I gave myself a summer assignment in the name of being a well rounded person and because…ah hem….teacher.

Sometimes it was to read the classics I didn’t read when I was in high school. Or it is to complete a writing course. Or to try a new recipe.

I have come to learn that experiments are part of how I am designed and align best to my creativity.

But this year I feel different as I shed the skin of teacher and slip into the new one of full time writer. I am not sure if it is the pivots that had to be made over the last year + or just that the personal stressors of past years are being eliminated. Some have timed out and some I have made decisions regarding in order to let them go.

The freedom of the summer schedule aligns with how I work best. Later in the summer I will examine how to bring more of that feeling to the job , but for now…I am going to write some more and then go for a walk.

Happy writing!

I would love to hear about your transition from school to home – is it dramatic for you?

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Have you read my newsletter? I started adding a section in my newsletter called: Overheard in Kindergarten. Sign up now!

Words of Kindergarten #SOL21

Every Tuesday I blog and share at twowritingteachers.org. Teacher writers share and comment on at least 3 posts.

Almost there.

My students’ last day was Friday. Today I am in an all day reading curriculum training. My last day is Thursday which means my full time writer schedule begins on Friday. I cannot wait.

One of the many things I love about kindergarten is the way my students have their own lens and ways of describing things. I keep a log of things that my students say so I can remember.

I started adding a section in my newsletter called: Overheard in Kindergarten

Here are some phrases I wrote down the last week:

  • If we had ice cream hair we could just lick our heads.
  • Overheard at the kitchen center: I am making scrambled berries with potato sauce and purple ketchup.
  • Lull-a-pie (lullaby)
  • “Your hair is excited for Thursday”
  • “These are my July shoes.” (They are red, white, and blue.)
  • “I have to sharpen my eraser.”
  • “Push me to South Carolina!” (on the swings)

There were a lot of great things about this school year despite its massive amounts of pivots but I am ready to recharge and move forward. I know I am not alone in this sentiment.

Here’s to summer!

I will miss the words of my kindergarteners and am glad I have a document to school through to hear their words when I miss them.

LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP – The FABULOUS FLASH FICTION CLASS starts tomorrow!

Sign up here.