Every Tuesday I post a slice of life and share in the challenge at Two Writing Teachers.
Lately, I have noticed shadows of things that I thought were new to my life but actually are not. It is amazing what reflection can bring forth.
I think of myself as a reflective person, and not just at the end of the school year. I always want to learn and become better and reflection is a large part of this process in my opinion.
With my discovery of short stories and I being creative soul mates over the recent last couple of years, I did not think that I had that much experience with short stories before. I had no recollection of reading many of them in high school other than The Celestial Omnibus . I do have a special place in my heart for this story, which is why I suspect it stands out.
Yesterday, while looking for something else, I stumbled across my ELA folder from school. In my corporation, writing samples were saved in a district folder that followed you from elementary to senior year where it was given to you unceremoniously. I have kept it all these years.
Curious, I started thumbing through it and was reminded of papers I wrote for Macbeth and for Of Mice and Men…then I stumbled on papers in connection to short stories.
One is WINTER DREAMS by F Scott Fitzgerald. I printed it off and began reading. I don’t remember reading it at all! It was a trip down memory lane – slight skewed.
I wrote a paper about Judy Jones and her many personality aspects. It isn’t the most riveting paper I must say. I had strong opinions and did not like this character much at all!
I look forward to finding new stories to read that I have read before. It will be like the first time…again.
Every Tuesday I write a slice of life and share it at Two Writing Teachers.
Meeting with my writing group is life giving for me and even as the end of the school year is upon us I am glad I am taking the time to do this project.
I had mentioned in my previous writing club post that the discussion process needed some work. I decided to pose a question to the group that they would have to answer individually and then we would popcorn after that to agree, disagree or pose a related question to what the rest of the group said. I will say that once the expectation of collaborative conversation was presented they did a much better job. My next step is to get them to talk more to each other rather than bouncing everything off me. I do not want to be the center of the conversation, only a part of it.
The question was “What is the perfect life?”
The story used for reading like a writer was Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver.
Here is the list of craft moves/ideas for their own writing they gleaned from the text and discussion:
+Use the title
+Write sentences that conjure strong visualization in the reader
+Write about fighting over an object or a picture that represents a bigger idea
+Write a story with 2 characters
+Write the story about what happens before this story
+Write the story of what happens after this story
+Start with action – dive right in with a big moment
+ Open with a paragraph and talks about the weather to se the mood for the story
+Use a last line that leads to more than one conclusion
We then finished the session with a 4 minute freewrite. The pencils were feverishly writing on their paper at my tables.
–One was a flash piece full of strong emotion and sadness.
–One was the before story – what happened to explain why the couple was fighting
They noticed lines I glazed over and had specific reflections with text evidence.
I was gifted with 45 minutes of time with these students. It went by quick. I sent them a link to storyaday and the challenge I participate in every May and September.
I think I am going to use some of Sandra Cisneros stories from The House on Mango street next.
Yesterday I went for a second spring run at the National Dunes Lakeshore. I am lucky to live in Northwest Indiana and to have access to this park. I didn’t visit the park until I was an adult runner even though I have lived here most of my life.
I wandered down trail 9 yesterday. Essentially, I ran the trail backwards from how I normally run it. The “normal” route is to go down trail 10 and then up on the ridge and then down trail 9 back to the parking lot. There were several cars in the Wilson Shelter parking lot due to the beautiful weather yesterday. It was near 70 degrees here. During the week there has been no admission fee which makes me feel like I am getting away with something. On my way out I noticed a man at the entrance booth. hee hee
As I ran trail 9 I noticed to the left of the path the brown leaves are decaying on their own timeline. To my right the ground looked burnt and reminded me of the lava fields of Kona, Hawaii. I assume it was a controlled burn supervised by the park rangers. It was surreal to see and I moved along.
Looking at the black leaves, a smoldering fire, and smoke cloud I thought about how much I like the idea of fire.
Sometimes you need to light a fire.
Sometimes you need to stoke your internal fire and follow your passion.
Sometimes you need to burn a project to the ground and start over.
Gathering ideas are like gathering twigs in the woods. Starting the project is like lighting a fire. Sometimes I start the fire/new project too early because I am excited. I light the kindling, but then I do not have anything else to feed the fire with and it goes out! To avoid this catastrophe, I’m working on gathering my resources and organizing my most recent project so I can start a fire that can burn for a long time.
I was happy to run outside yesterday. I needed to be in nature, it is I way I refuel.
How do you refuel yourself?
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March! We are almost to the end. Head over to twowritingteachers.org to check out some other great blogs.
Today I am using a format from fellow blogger Terje @ Just for A Month.
Right now I am
::sitting in the bed. I do not have to go anywhere today and it is glorious!
::watching the computer screen light up to greet me me hello! We are going to spend a lot of time together over the next week.
::sensing a nap coming on mid morning.
::drinking perfect hot black coffee – only on cup one right now.
::listening to the rain ping off the roof and flow down the gutters. The birds are twittering all about it.
::finding my thoughts centering around the Neil Gaiman interview on Tim Ferris’ podcast. That episode has stuck with me. Neil is my new go to author for essays for my Bradbury Trio. I have his book of nonfiction essays.
::hearing the quiet of the morning – no alarm, no children awake yet!
::feeling thankful for my job and spring break and writing and writing community
::appreciating the love of family in my life and spending time with them
::looking forward to resting over the next week! I also have a good writing day scheduled on Monday. A real life meeting and a Zoom writing meeting.
::wondering about what I am going to write today.
::doubting I will move much today!
::admiring how much my oldest son loves baseball. He is dedicated to his team and has played two games for this season already.
::realizing that next week is my Oma’s death anniversary.
::tapping on the keys of the Chromebook is a satisfying sound
::remembering to appreciated the moment I am in and not to wish away the ones I have.
::missing nothing right now.
::worrying about money stuff but right now I cannot do anything about it.
::deciding to do #CAMPNANOWRIMO I am glad it is less restrictive. I have a (kinda) plan and I write anyway so hopefully it will be ok! ha!
::leaning on my husband as always. I am also leaning on my writing communities. I have needed them this month, more than they know!
::sending sunshine and llama love out to everyone who reads my blog
::wishing to have a wonderful relaxing and day full of laughter, togetherness, reading, and writing!
One of the writing resources I use is Language is A Virus. Here there is a list of 66 writing experiments. I used the idea of English to English translation to work on craft yesterday.
According to the site:
Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else’s, then your own) and translate it “English to English” by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or “free” translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into a slang or vernacular. Do several different types of homolinguistic translation of a single source poem. (Cf.Six Fillious by bp nichol, Steve McCaffery, Robert Fillious, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Dieter Roth, which also included translation of the poem to French and German.) Chaining: try this with a group, sending the poem on for “translation” from person to another until you get back to the first author.
I used the poem, “The Imaginal Stage” by D.A. Powell.
This is what I ended up with after utilizing a thesaurus and them rewriting for more cohesion.
Inventive Theater by T.L. Breitweiser
On the plane where we change
I move away into a view of abundant worlds.
Rather than suns,
Abundant corners are fancy to scorch.
Do not settle
An ending opportunity
When instantly they indeed appear
To settle with the mundane.
Quiver and alter
The remains of my mind
The end game is we combust
Apt to escalate at dawn
When I share my feathers.
This was an interesting exercise and more difficult than I first imagined. I would like to try it with students. I would only give students one stanza as it can be frustrating to find words that fit.
Today’s Slice for the Two Writing Teachers Challenge is inspired by Tsh Oxendreider and her podcast.
A good THING: This fountain pen
I was writing with it this morning! It is light and perfect for my little baby hands.
A Good BIT OF FUN: LLAMAS!!!
A Good Work of INSPIRATION: Kelly Link
I have re-watched this video of Kelly Link numerous times. I think she is amazing as a person and as a writer. She always inspires me.
A Good PHILOSOPHY:
Pronoia is a worldview that says that every person, place, thing and circumstance in this Universe is actually conspiring to bless you. This idea reminds me of THE ALCHEMIST which is a book that came to me when I needed it.
Running made me a morning person. I used to get up before 5am everyday and run no matter what the weather or the mood. I am not training for anything now however.
I keep hearing and reading lots about morning routines. The information centers around creativity, productivity and being a leader which I enjoy. I also like reading about routines especially when they are about the process or writing.
I like the Ninja Writers W.R.I.T.E.R. acronym: For 10 minutes each Write-READ-IDEAS-EXERCISE-REVIEW but I do not stick to it.
I have read a lot of about other people’s routines here.
I do have morning routines for home and school.
My ideal morning routine is to wake up naturally, have coffee in bed with my husband, write and read for several hours, and then run outside.
At school I try to freewrite before my official day starts. I either write what comes to mind organically or use a prompt I am feeling that day. Many times it is something that was sparked by a podcast that I listen to on my way to work.
When the day starts I look at my bullet journal and what I have for the day. I double check email to make sure that I have everything on the list. I pour a cup of hot Joe and then get started.
I feel like my mental clarity has been better the last couple of weeks which is refreshing. Throughout the day I read my Bradbury Trio. There just isn’t enough time in the morning to get that all in!
What is your morning routine?
Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning but I can make you iced coffee if you prefer. Even though it is warmer it doesn’t stop me from drinking several hot cups. I think I will bring us glasses of ice water just for variety.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then commenting on at least 3 posts. I have read some inspirational posts this week. I am going to miss this challenge when it is over.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you there was lots of testing this week at school. We have a district program called IREADY that requires a diagnostic 3 times a year. We are taking the end of year test a little early in preparation for the state test. There have been some incentives put in place for our 7th and 8th graders and they did much better this time.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I also started work on a coaching workshop that I hope to teach within the next year. I want to make it as interactive as possible – no PowerPoint! The other writing I did was reflective. I also worked on a few stories.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I read at least one essay, one poem and one short story every day this week to continue my Bradbury Trio program. I was just recording them in my notebook but now started a Google Folder to log some links. I finished one notebook and started a new one so now the lists are separated!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you our team consultant visited on Wednesday. He is always interesting to talk to. He talked about paying attention to students who are always doing the right thing. Some of the things he said caused me to write 3 notes to students thanking them for various behaviors. One student is a fantastic writer and I am always honored she shares her stories with me. Another student went up 26 points on his diagnostic test which is about 2 grade levels. A third student is always kind and smiling. She is uplifting to everyone around her. I also write a couple thank you notes to teachers. Thank you notes have power!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you the students I gave the envelopes to at first didn’t know what to do with them. In this digital age paper is not common. They weren’t sure if they should open them or not! The looks on their faces were cute and surprised.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am enjoying the 10 day writing challenge. The prompts are interesting and different. The game name from the Day 1 prompt I liked so well that I am using part of it for my writer bio.
If we were having coffee I would admit to you I did not go to my in real life writing group this week. I was tired and the drive seemed too long to go. I had not prepared a story to share. There is a celebration event I will be going to next month. My online group was not as active this week on the Slack channel. There seems to be a lot going on with them swirling around spring break and college admissions and other life stuff. I have missed the conversations.
If we were having coffee I would tell you yesterday was spent outside. We went to the park and I went for another run. It was 50 degrees and sunny all day! Today will be an inside day with cooler temps and thunderstorms in the forecast. Today is about being low key, reading, and writing!
If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! It really is a highlight of my week. What is the best thing that happened to you today?
Other weekend coffee share posts are here
You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge at twowritingteachers.org.
I played the violin from 6th grade to 12th grade and had the same orchestra teacher my entire career.
One year we placed at state playing “HoeDown” by Copeland. We would have received a perfect score if the music had not been mislabeled. We LOVED performing this song. I would practice sequences on my arm in class.
The song may seem familiar to you…it was featured in a “Beef It’s what’s For Dinner” commercial several years ago.
Over the past week I have listened to the song over and over. I can feel what it is like to be on stage. I was third chair [there were literally two prodigies in the 1st and 2nd chairs] throughout high school and can remember looking out into the crowd at performances.