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. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Habits for a Writer

As I begin this new journey, I find myself reflecting on what habits I can develop as a writer.

The most important one, and one I've always known about myself, is I need to create a quiet space for myself to write.  I am not someone who writes well when other people are around or there is a great deal of activity for multiple reasons:
  • I revise constantly as I write.  I envy those people who can start a blog post and have it done in 15 - 20 minutes.  I find that I am rereading sections and entire paragraphs to fine-tune them all the time.  To do that effectively, I need quiet space -- space where I can reread sentences out loud to capture their flow, space where I hopefully can choose the best word for the phrase, space where I can spread out notes and work that support me as I work/write.
  • I am horrible at multi-tasking.  My brain can just not assimilate conversations people might want to have with me at the same time I am working on the flow of a piece.  Every time I'm interrupted by a family member or the painters that are currently painting the exterior of our house or a phone ringing, I basically have to restart my writing.  A general equation for me would be: the more interruptions I've had while writing = the choppier my writing sounds.
  • Writing is a "me" activity.  It is way of expressing myself professionally or personally.  So selfishly, I want/need my writing time to allow me to settle in wherever I want without distraction.  If I'm right in the middle of an important thought, I begin to resent the distractor (human or not).  At that moment in time, the distraction was an impediment to my train of thought.
The easiest solution to this dilemma is to get up earlier than everyone else.  This morning, I woke early, threw a load of clothes in the washer, and settled onto our incredibly comfortable couch (too humid today to be on our lovely screened porch) with my laptop.  The washing machine provides a comforting sound in the background, the phones are not ringing this early, the painters have not arrived yet, my family is either still in bed or headed to work.  The space and quiet I have is all me.  Selfishly, that is just the way I need it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A link to my thinking about #AllWrite13

June 25

Today, I wanted my writing to live a little more publicly since I reflected on last week's #AllWrite13 conference, a truly amazing experience.  I decided to publish today's writing on the Literate Lives blog.

I love the writing exercise I practiced before writing this post.  The act of revising research notes by rereading and rethinking what I learned was quite powerful.

Monday, June 24, 2013

First entry - a little scary and a lot disjointed

Monday, June 24

I have a serious stream of consciousness going on right now...

It's a little scary and exciting at the same time to have a blog that belongs just to me.  The exciting -- my ideas, my thoughts, my ramblings.  The scary - there's no backup.  I have relied on Bill more times than I can count to have my back when I wasn't writing at our Literate Lives blog.  But this time, it's all me and my wanderings.

I was in a twitter conversation this morning about online notebooks.  I still don't know where I stand on this.  I love the ease of having my tool for writing with me at all times, but I also love the feeling of pencil (not just any pencil, but a Ticonderoga #2) on paper.  And I love the ease of Evernote.  I'm thinking I should just use all 3 -- choose the tool that best suits my mood and needs at the time.

Some days house ownership stinks and this was one of them.  We are having our house painted and stained this summer, so the man who power washes the house came out, and we discovered a very rotten soffit board because he blew a hole right through it with the washer.  Huge gash in the wood with the insulation hanging down.  Can you say wet?!

I calmed myself by making corn and black bean salsa.  I had already planned on making it before this incident since I have two consecutive book clubs meeting here the next two nights, but I found the cutting and dicing of all the vegetables that go in the salsa to be incredibly soothing.  My mind wandered to all the times I have made this delicious dip.  At our house, it is considered a "comfort food."  One of those foods that is requested when someone wants to feel better.  The events connected to this salsa could be one of those entries developed further at another time because it evokes so many memories.

So, currently I have no specific plan for this space.  It is mine to fill with stories or anecdotes or musings or the wanderings of my mind.  Some days it will all tie together, and other days will be like this, a need I had to just jot down the moments that were in my mind.

If you're a visitor here, welcome.  You have purposely chosen to be here since I am not advertising this outside of Teachers Write and my close friends.  I appreciate your company.