Tuesday, January 15, 2013

my writer's notebook

When I was a teacher, my favorite thing to teach was writing. Not to adults so much because they had their giant sets of nasty fears fed by red pens for all the years of their writing education. It was hard for them to get past that. The monkey mind, Natalie Goldberg calls it.

Adults had fears that they would make a mistake (Oh, God! A dangling participle!) or something would sound stupid. It was nearly impossible to get them to let go and just write.

If you could to kids in time, before the pestilence of the five paragraph essay had them in its death grip, they could learn to enjoy writing, to think of it as just thinking on paper, as mental gymnastics or self-expression.

My friend, Jill, and I did a lot of staff development for teachers of writing, much of it unsuccessful in the ling run, but still fun. We had a lot of conversations in the car on the way to wherever, about writing and teaching writing. Some of the favorite memories of my teaching life.

Once, we had to beat a hasty retreat from a small town up north were the teachers turned not only restive but downright hostile. They wanted something different! They wanted grammar rules! They wanted margins to be measured and spelling mistakes to be counted! They wanted us run out of town on a rail! We escaped, but barely. It was like the Old West with no six-shooters.

Who would think that teachers would be so obstinate in their thinking about learning?

Anyway, by way of long-winded explanation, this is my writer's notebook. It's like an artist's sketchbook or a sculptor's idea book. Not saying I am any kind of artist, but sitting here every morning as I have for more than six years now, composing blog posts is a form of exercise I love.

Throughout the day, things in my head get sorted into little piles...forget that, remember this, good blog material. In the morning, or sometimes as I go to sleep, I try to massage the things for the blog into a theme, but not usually. Usually, I just start writing.

In the end, it's just my thoughts. Written down. It doesn't have to be of any high quality. I have looked back and liked some posts much better than others. Some made me laugh out loud again. Some made me wish I'd had another cup of coffee and forgotten about the posting for that day. Some were stupid. It doesn't matter.

Jill and I had fantasies about buying a Willie Nelson bus and going around the country teaching people to write and to love writing. We would have been good at it but we ran out of energy for it and we never had the money. Just think, we could have pulled into your town, set out some cold lemonade and cookies, and spent an afternoon writing down your memories. What fun that would have been.

My week with cancer update: I had my third A & C treatment last Thursday. I slept a lot for three days but now I'm back to feeling more energetic. Regis and I are going to the Exercise Is Medicine program through Mayo so we're getting regular exercise. Tomorrow night I am going to a program at the clinic for which I cannot remember the name. Something clever. They give you lots of samples of make-up and teach you how to take care of your skin. I signed up for this?

Jill and I are having lunch today, I'm going for a walk if it isn't too cold outside, and I have a few errands to run. My mom has been so good about sending me little surprise packages in the mail and I want to return the favor. It will be a good day.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Maybe we'll think to talk about writing at lunch today, Teresa. If not, I'll mention here that the other day I read through poems I have in a file on my computer. Poems I've started, poems that have been revised in chunks or maybe just one word at a time over many years, and poems that are as finished as I can get them. Some are from workshops we went to where we had mentor poems to launch our own. Good memories of our days of going on the road together.