Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Teacher's Write! Week 2 Day 3

Today is a Q and A day on Teachers Write! but I wanted to spend a few minutes writing on my own blog.  This blog is public, but really, I wonder if it should be.  My responses are short and probably only make sense to me. 

At this moment, I sit in a relatively quiet house where two children still sleep.  I have half a cup of cold copy next to me, an immune booster concoction running in my diffuser and a few piles of papers and other things that didn't find a proper home yesterday evening.  My fingers type as my mind wanders.  How will Chelsea be feeling this morning?  Will we make it to church for Bible study?  Will I have to answer the "can we go to Jeepers?" question?  Should I tackle the Moodle?  Will it rain? 

Even in a quiet house, my mind is not quiet.  Deep breath, swig of coffee, off to see what others have asked. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teachers Write! Week 2 Day 2: Compressing

7 sentences about a character's life: 

Born in 1920 to...
Lost mother, slept in a barn overnight, discovered by school teacher that next morning
Completed a term at Danville, finished and graduated from Loudonville High
Began working at....
Completed basic training in LA....
Sent to the Middle East
Struggled with letter writing, answered a young woman who worked with his father
Returned home to meet the girl for the first time

Teachers Write! Week 2 Day 1

This morning Jo suggested we (and our students) do the following type of exercise: 

This is a story about ................................................

But underneath it's really about ......................................................

I don't have a WIP right now; in fact, I'm just warming up to the idea that I might, maybe find time and be capable of writing something could be published.  But I am inspired by some family letters I have a chance to read.  They are sparking lots of questions, both family and research questions. 

If I were to begin to work on a story around these letters, here is how the prompt would work: 

This is a story about a World War II soldier writing letters home. 

But underneath, it's really a story about the history of my family and a young man growing into himself. 

Teachers Write! Day 5: My Takeaways

I'm behind of course, but while my children are cleaning in their pajamas (their choice activity), I'm scrolling through Teacher's Write to catch up! 

From Day 5's posts, I take away that there are many ways to write and that writing your first work (which may never be published) will teach you loads about how writing works for you! 

I also really appreciated the suggestions about beginnings.  My gut would be to start with character and setting, but I can see how truly beginning to write out your problem our incident could really feed the story. 

Teachers Write! Day 4

Day 4's exercise was Word Hoards.  I typed three of Grandpa's letters into Wordle to see which words were most frequent.  Here's the picture.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Teacher's Write Day 3: The Beginning

I'm thirty-eight years old, but my story began almost seventy-one years ago.  It began with a conversation, a missing letter, and a response to that letter.  Today, I begin reading my story.  As my six-year-old quickly picked up, the letters begin with "Dear Verna" and for now, they end with "Yours truly, Carl."  The fact that I am here and a telegram indicate that it took less than two years for the closing to change. 

Sitting at my dining room table, I feel that I am beginning the biggest adventure I've ever been on.  It's late, and everyone else in my house is sleeping, but I'm excited and conflicted.  Should I reread or pull out just one more?  How long will it take for me to read all 103?  Will I slow down or wish I had slowed down at the end?

The story begins with, "I am very glad you wrote to me under the circumstances.  Hope you aren't sorry now and never will be."  Seventy-one years later, she never was.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teacher's Write Day 2: Getting (back) into the mind of a child

"Brush your teeth?"


"Brush your hair?"


"Got sunscreen?"

"YES, can I go yet?" 

"Just be careful on the hill, and be nice to Paul."


THUD.  The broomstick's still in the door.  CLANG.  She tosses it on the floor, flips the lock, breathes the fresh air, and skips down the stairs.  Where to first?  Who should she be today?  Head toward the swings, board the plane, and soar through the air as a pilot?  Climb up the deck stairs, hop in the ship, and set sail on the seas?  Plop down under the giant maple, close my eyes, feel the sun on my checks and pretend I'm floating on a cloud? Sneak around the side of the house, hide in the bushes and write secret messages on the ground?  Would there be time for all of them?  The doors to my imaginary journeys were open.  Each one began with a run down the hill. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Teachers Write! Day 1: The Place

Along the steep, winding, charcoal drive, past the long empty mailbox that still bears his full name, up the three gray steps to the faded red door, heavy footsteps contrast the quiet rustle of leaves in the wind.  Rays of sunshine bounce off the crisp green grass and back toward the clear blue skies.  The screen creeks, the knob turns, and the son enters ready to begin the job he wished didn't need to be done.  Impossibly, silence and darkness surround the empty spaces that have been and still should be filled with family, fresh pies, laughter, and love.  The home has long accepted what the family now acknowledges.  The heart of the household, baker of breads and mother to many returns here no longer.  It is time for this family to say goodbye, empty the space of things but not memories, and make room for another family to fill.

Decisions abound.  What to keep?  What to pass?  What to give away?  Where does the rest go?  Who wanted this?  Was it him?  Was it her?  Where did this come from?  Has that always been here?  The questions run and jumble through his head, yet enter his ears as if they'd been said aloud.  Answers are elusive, but he knows where to start.  Buried in a Dr. Scholl's shoebox in a dark corner an overfilled closet are 103 letters.  103 letters written to her.  While the family knows the letters hold the beginning of the story, until this moment, the beginning of the story had only been read by one.