Tuesday, May 1, 2018
SLICE OF LIFE
As I wrap up these two months of nonstop writing, I'm thinking about several different things:
The importance of audience and feedback- It's really, really nice to get feedback on your writing. I loved getting comments from other writers. This year, I didn't get nearly as many comments when I sliced. I thought maybe it was just me-- that I was old and boring, and didn't have much to contribute to the community, but then several other people wrote about the lack of comments too. I found the same thing to be true with poetry, but it was mostly my fault. I really prefer to post in the morning, but I had a hard time getting ahead, and ended up, most of the time, posting at about 9:00 at night. That meant not many people read what I wrote. It's harder to want to keep writing when you think no one is reading it.
And then I think about our students. How many of our kids write for days and days and days, with only their teachers as authentic readers? No wonder they don't want to keep writing!
The importance of community. The first several years I wrote poetry, I wrote alongside a group, at Year of Reading. I loved the little community that formed each year. I loved having a focused (not sure that is the right word for it) and I loved seeing what other people did with that topic. Last year, I didn't write at all, and this year, I came back, I found that I really missed the community and connections and conversations around the shared topic. I did have a few faithful readers- Mary Lee Hahn, Cathy Mere, Glenda Funk, Elisabeth Ellington, Jean LaTourette. Those people kept me writing. And again, I think about the importance of community in our classrooms.
The importance of mentors and exemplars and possibility. I loved reading other people's poems. Amy Ludwig VanderWater gave readers a new tool to try every day. Mary Lee wrote a month's worth of fabulous golden shovel poems. Elisabeth Ellington and Glenda Funk, who both said they weren't poets, tried a whole bunch of fabulous and different structures. It was really fun to have all of those possibilities to wallow in. I think about the importance of immersing kids in poetry.
The role of choice. This feels a little like heresy, but I have been thinking a lot about choice. I totally believe in kids having choice as writers. At the same time, I really appreciated the structure provided the years that I wrote with MaryLee. I didn't mind having the topic chosen for me. And I actually think I wrote better than I did this year. I'm really not sure what that means, but I'm thinking about it.
Playfulness. Writers need lots of time to just plain out play. And I don't think I give them enough of that.
So, those are just a few random thoughts, at the end of two straight months of writing. And now I'm going to go read a book. I haven't done nearly enough of that in the last couple of months!