Snacks, water bottles, white boards, and time to chat–all this made a difference in the success of our week-long writing camp, which ended today. What a gift to work in such a small group, sharing ideas, reading our writing, and talking about ways to improve. The boys, good sports both, worked hard on two different pieces of writing. And I wasn’t surprised to find that the conversations we had helped the most. This is, of course, the way to work with writers. You can’t be at the front of the room. You must sit with the student, talking about the strengths, asking questions…..nodding and encouraging.
One of the boys had brought a MacAir, so before I could say “sure,” he had set up his iphone as a hotspot, pulled out and set up his iPad for another boy, and opened Google Docs to start typing. So much the notebooks I’d purchased:)
He also texted me this, which I hadn’t seen but seemed so appropriate for the week:
I sure love middle-schoolers.
It’s funny. When I worked with my yearbook and newspaper kids on their publications, I viewed any typo or error as a learning experience. I didn’t do their work for them, and I wanted them to understand the ramifications of not editing well. Ok, in truth, part of the reason is that I’m not a detail person myself. I love writing and revising, but editing? Ugh. I have to force myself to read one word at a time, and even then I can read right over a mistake.
But I have to say, I worked hard on my recent story for our local monthly magazine, and I was disappointed to see a typo in the headline (which I didn’t write). Actually, I was mortified.
After taking several deep breaths and nearly hyperventilating, I told myself it wasn’t the end of the world. And it isn’t.
Mistakes happen. I know whoever wrote “hungrey” for “hungry” is kicking himself right now.
And next time, it might be me.
It’s not writer’s block, but something keeps me from putting pen to paper these days. Time visiting my mom in Rhode Island? Perhaps. Fallen trees across my backyard from vicious storms? Could be. Temperatures hovering at 100 every day? Probably.
My gut says my head is elsewhere. Yes, my body talks to me all the time, and I usually listen. But these days I’m hearing voices that say, “Don’t worry, you can write later,” and “You’ll remember that thought. No need to write it down now.” Inevitably, I don’t write or remember.
After I run a few errands, I will plop myself down in my studio and write. About the black clouds and hail we raced home last night. About the warm blueberry cobbler I made with coconut flour. About the lump in my throat when I opened the door to my dad’s workshop last week. I hadn’t been in since he died. Seeing his shirt hanging from a nail, hearing the radio station pop on as I flicked the power switch, and noticing ancient paint and turpentine cans lining the wooden shelves–these all need some kind of form and structure.
we took the new boat out for a ride around the salt pond,
letting her ride over waves, melt into dips.
above, seagulls cawed, warning us of rocks and shallows.
sun glistened off blue gray ripples, tears dripped from my wind-blown eyes.
new seat cushions spattered with debris.
yet nothing mattered.
on the water, visiting coves, remembering childhood dreams.
we drifted into the sandbar and tossed anchor, knowing the path to the ocean was around the bend.
pounding waves called to us, as the boat napped, waiting.