Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Good Company

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers


I am a writer. The more I say that sentence, the easier it gets...well, not easier to do, but easier to accept. This past week two of my favorite writers documented their own struggles with their craft.


I like that. It's honest. It's authentic. I'm in good company. Feeling like a fake. Feeling not good enough is something that every writer faces. In reading the rest of Anne Lamott's post she writes about not knowing what her next book will be about. Initially I thought, "How could ANNE LAMOTT not know what to write?!?!" And then I smiled. I get it! I just didn't think she felt that struggle. 

I want my students to feel this struggle and know it's worth it. We are writing and sharing our writing with writing groups. I'm calling it the independent writing project. I'm using Gail Carson Levine's book "Writing Magic" as a read aloud to guide us through our process. 

Students are excited and frustrated and scared and thrilled. I want them to know that all writers struggle with ideas and share their writing to make it better. We will write and revise and write and edit and start all over again. I'm getting lots of permission questions right now. "May I write...?" "What if I write about...?" "Now I want to write...is that ok?" YES! YES! YES!

In school, I am working on a novel in verse. Recently I've read some amazing books like this and I want to see if I can do this. At home, in my writing I'm working on an idea...it's still percolating...so I'm not ready to share. Writing gets me more writing. I, like my students, need permission to write badly. In writing badly, I eventually get to the good ideas. Having faith that the good ideas are there...behind all of the bad writing...that's what my struggle right now. 

This journey of writing helps me talk to my students as fellow writers. It gives me the same experience as them and we share the same vocabulary about our successes and our struggles. See, I'm in good company!

19 comments:

  1. "Writing gets me writing."
    That is so true.
    I am intrigued by the idea of your novel in verse ..
    Kevin

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    1. Thanks Kevin! I wanted to try this genre that I love so much. I have a plan and I'm about to start drafting today. I'm sure you'll hear more about it. :)

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  2. Michelle, you have interesting thoughts so early in the morning! This image "it's still percolating" makes me think of the bubbling excitement that new ideas can bring. All the writing ides that you are putting into practice in your class sound wonderful! Stay safe in the storm...and write some more if you get extra time at home.

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    1. Jaana, I must be honest, I wrote the post last night. Just posted this morning. :) Writing is on the agenda for this snow day!

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  3. How funny, Michelle...I wrote about a similar topic today! I love Gail's book, "Writing Magic." So many great ideas there. Are you having a snow day today? Stay safe!

    Jennifer

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    1. Snow day? YES! We only got a few inches, so we're ok here. Heading over to your blog now to check it out. :)

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  4. I sometimes have the same problems with cleaning, shopping, and caregiving. Sometimes I just feel so lost and out of place and out of touch and yet other times the pieces of my life seem to flow and flourish. I think it is in working through the hard parts that we learn to be writers (as well as cleaners, shoppers and caregivers!)

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  5. I imagine that the Ira Glass piece Dana shared touched your heart, too, Michelle! What a wonderful thing you're doing with your students, and the sharing of your own writing self-wow. I'll look forward to more "writing" about this journey.

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  6. I am with you on this. And if Anne Lamott is there too, maybe we are in good company. Her raw honesty always makes me smile, sometimes cry. I love how you are doing this unit with your kiddos. The fear and need for approval is so normal. Sharing your writing and your angst with them is probably one of the most powerful (and brave) things you could do for them as writers. Bravo Michelle!

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  7. It is nice to know that great writers struggle. I really enjoyed the Ira Glass piece this morning too. Such similar thoughts spreading throughout today. Hopefully your snow day will be the just inspiration you need. We had a two hour delay today for fear of black ice but it is not that bad - just being cautious. Enjoy!

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  8. Great writers struggle! Isn't this really the lesson we need to teach after all of the conventions, craft, and topics? Stay safe and warm today! Here's to a day of writing and reading!

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  9. You are sharing the authentic messiness of writing and living. It's not simple or easy or boring to think and write and so thrilling!!!! Rock on Michelle. After I read Brown Girl Dreaming I was ready to condense my prose just like her.

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  10. I have this struggle every Tuesday. Although there is no way I compare myself to established writers, it is nice to know that I am not alone in my struggling to fir words to paper.

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  11. I just broke through a really bad patch of not being able to write, Michelle - so I get the struggle. A supportive community and patience helps. :)

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  12. Michelle,
    I wrote a novel in verse, too. Wanta share? Did you get your birthday present?
    I love how you are one with the students in their struggles. I wrote about that today, too. We are all learners. It never stops. Unfortunately, the fear never seems to stop either. Even Kate DiCamillo is afraid. It helps to know this.

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  13. Write badly. I need to engrave this... somewhere. The wall above my desk, a plaque, my forehead. Anywhere. Write. Write badly, but just write.

    I have a blog post percolating the last couple days for Two Writing Teachers. It's "Am I a Writer?" That post by Anne Lamott may have to make an appearance.

    You. Are. A. Writer.

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  14. I am so excited that you are writing a novel in verse!! You know, I've been running small book groups for a long time now, but I haven't done small writing groups since I taught pure writing workshop a LONG time ago. I just might do that during our next literacy cycle.

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  15. Ah- Anne LaMotte and Glennon Melton- two of my favorites, because they are just so honest about their struggles as writers. I loved your slice.

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  16. So fun to read this post and the words from Anne Lamott, Glennon Melton (I just picked up her book from my holds shelf at the library on your recommendation), and YOU: " ...all writers struggle with ideas and share their writing to make it better." Thanks for reminding me today that the struggle is part of the journey.

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