Sunday, April 7, 2013

About Writing

“I hate to write. But I like having written.” My husband told this to me, and I remember thinking how odd. He’s an accomplished author, having written nine books and countless articles for journals and magazines, and blogs about writing for the medical professional community. And that’s his side job, so essentially he does this for fun. So how on Earth is it that he, of all people, hates to write?

I have hated writing my whole life. Writing in school was never fun. College papers? All I can say is thank God I was a music major for my undergrad work—two papers in four years! Writing? Hated it!

Well, there have been moments in time where I enjoyed it.  Songs have been rewritten for birthdays, anniversaries, introductions to honorees, and farewells. Ridiculous poems and limericks were crafted—with the help of wine—for celebrations. Plays have been created for retirement parties. Of course the most meaningful writings were the odes to my mother for her 75th and 80th birthdays. And the most difficult were the eulogies for my dad’s two memorial services.

Last May I was told I would be moving from fifth to sixth grade, and I would be the writing teacher for the entire sixth grade. Gulp!  It was shortly thereafter that I determined I would write a blog. After all, if I expected my students to write every day, I should as well.

Lead by example.

Model good writing.

My plan was to do it every day.  Every. Single. Day.

That didn’t happen. I do have a blog, and I have nine entries on it. I realized there was no possible way I would post a new entry every day for several reasons:  A) I have a life.  B) Sometimes the quality of writing was subpar, and I will publish nothing that is not my best.  C ) I had nothing to write about, and I’m not like Seinfeld—I can’t write about nothing.  D) Creating a publishable piece every day is a ridiculous expectation from someone who is not a writer—even more so from someone who hates to write. My students will be gratified.

I hadn’t realized it before, but most days I am surrounded with good writing. I read every day—online pieces, magazines, newspapers, Facebook, or my current Kindle book. I’m a chronic list maker, so I’m able to not only get my thoughts down, but also organize from them. I peruse product labels, recipes, directions, and advertisements. I read shampoo labels as I shower. I play about 20 games of Words with Friends every day.  I never just sit and do nothing. I am steeped in words.

And I require the same from my students. We read an enormous variety of mentor texts and pick them apart for style, words, parts of speech, ideas, transitions—everything. We talk about writing, back and forth, sharing ideas. Writing class seems organic to me as a natural evolution of the spoken to the written  word. We share, we revise, we talk again, we reflect, we change, we write more. We critique kindly, we praise, we refine, we take risks.  Most of all we try.

I write truthfully and primarily from what I know. I want to learn from people who love to write, who think it’s a wonderful, time-honored craft. I want to peek into their brain and see how they think, plan, work, and rework writing. I want to know how to inspire and challenge. I want to know how to grow writers. I want to know how to help them flourish.

They say there’s a fine line between love and hate. I’m now questioning my feelings about writing. Maybe I don’t hate it. Maybe I don’t love it, but maybe I don’t hate it either.
Or maybe, like my husband’s stolen Dorothy Parker line, I actually do hate writing, but I love having written.

Yes, I think that’s it.


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