Thursday, June 27, 2013

Not shiny and new

I feel like I need to reflect and settle into some habits before tackling a longer, more focused piece or composition so more thoughts and tidbits today.

Yesterday, as I was browsing through a small segment of the Teachers Write posts, I found one that really spoke to me.  Kristin reflected on what notebooks she should use for her writing.  The office store advertisements were really calling her name, but she decided to just continue to use the notebooks she already had.  In Kristin's words when talking about one of her notebooks, "It is not shiny.  It is not new.  But neither am I.  And that's OK."  And I loved how she shared that each of her notebooks contained parts of her.

This post guided me to think about all the notebooks that are stacked in my living room.  I just spent a luxurious three hours reading through two of those notebooks, looking for language or stories or ideas that would help me generate more writing. 

Right after I read through the 2 notebooks, I happened upon Cindy's blog post written in the middle of last night when she couldn't sleep.  One of her lines resonated so clearly with me, so I need to hold on to it:
"What I do know is that writing breeds the need for more writing and imagination, once sparked, continues to fuel itself."
I would call that serendipity -- two blog posts I read within the last 12 hour period that are compelling me to look back so I can move forward.

One of the wonderful items I discovered was 28 pages of dawn-to-dusk journal entries about my trip to visit our oldest daughter when she studied abroad in Spain.  Within that entry, I unearthed topics that appeared time and time again in my telling of events:
  • how much Kate had grown into being an independent young woman, 
  • my love of scarves began on this trip when all the Spanish women were wearing them, 
  • how different life is in Europe - they know so much more about the world and traveling than the average American, 
  • a guardian angel that took Kate and me under her wing as we traveled from Spain to Italy,
  • a lead to play with at some point: "It can be quite humbling to be an American traveling in a foreign country",
  • a phrase I wrote that I'd like to use/modify: "Seeing Tuscany is more than visual; it's a sensory ambience thing -- clothes flapping in the breeze on the line, birds chirping, the smell of food cooking wafting through the air along with a fresh country smell."  I really want to play with this phrase,
  • stairs were prominent in almost every entry, both in Spain and Italy
Then I noticed some great language (other people):
  • "If I've read a lot of good things about a book, I expect it to sparkle, glow, dance around the floor, and make me dinner." -- Liz Burns
  • "Anyone can now learn anything from anyone at any time." -- Bud Hunt from #NCTE09 (Philadelphia)
  • "You always need to focus on the 'why' first." - Ann Marie Corgill (multiple times from her writing and a Dublin Literacy presentation / love this idea!)
I loved a format I used several times in one of my writer's notebooks -- I only wrote/took notes on the right page of the notebook.  On the left, I left it blank, and though I don't remember doing this, I actually wrote on the left side, expanding and reflecting on the original thinking.  I think that format will be a great way to continue when I use my writer's notebooks.
 My plan for this summer was to write, but specifically I was thinking about blog posts and professional writing.  After perusing these 2 writer's notebooks (and I still have many more to go), maybe I might spend a few days looking at entries and listing some more of the ideas and then expanding on them.  Whatever I do, I just need to continue being a writer, looking and noticing and reflecting about all that is around me. 


  1. This post makes me want to reread my writer's notebooks! I have many of them but rarely look at them again. In the past couple of years, my notebook has become more of a journal or diary and less of a writer's notebook. Hmmm...thinking about how I can use my notebook more productively to generate more writing. (Also, love the idea of taking notes on one side and leaving space to reflect/process on the other!)

  2. Wow ... Love this post and feel like I was supposed to read and reread it this morning. I have a feeling I will come back often to reread this post ...
    I can't wait to see what happens on this learning journey you have embarked upon ...

  3. Looking back to move forward. Great advice!!

  4. This post makes me want to get going on Teachers' Write! Also drag out the box of old notebooks in my closet and do some looking back! And I love the idea of writing only on the right. Hmmm, maybe I need a new notebook…