Thursday, July 9, 2015

#Teachers Write Day 4

Today's Quick Write challenge is from author Tracey Baptiste. She is the author of The Jumbies. The challenge is focusing on voice. I received some really good feedback yesterday in regards to my character Ol' Man Joe.
So on to Exercise 1:
Ol' Man Joe stumbled down the long hallway through a heavy wooden door. He is wearing the same outfit he wears every day. A pair of crumpled khakis, that pillow around his ankles and his favorite well worn Cleveland Browns t shirt. As he walks into the room, he tucks the daily newspaper under his arm and carries his cup of Java in the other hand. He walks toward the sofa looking around to see if he recognizes anyone here. Seems lately no one comes down here any more. Just as well. He can read his paper without interruption. The ticking of the nearby clock tells him that he has only been sitting for a couple of minutes when he realizes that the room is filling up with people. He recognizes them and calls them by name. This secret society of men have been gathering every week for the last 40 years. They went to college together, all entered the Armed Forces, got married and raised kids and grandkids together.
And the mutterings begin. "How's the family?" "The kids?" Ol' Man Joe speaks up. "I love when I hear from one of my boys. Even if it is just to say hi. It doesn't happen often enough but I love hearing how they are doing. They seem to be so busy these days."

Ol Man Joe wishes he could share what is really on his heart. But that may mean that his friends would disown him. His children may really leave him. This heavy burden is almost too much to bear!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#TeachersWrite Day 3

Today's author visit is from Melanie Crowder.  She is the author of Parched and Audacity. She has asked us to draw up some sketches for a few of the characters in our stories. What they look like, their hobbies, their habits, their flaws...

And so...I draw on Ol' Man Joe.  He was one of my people watchers from yesterday's assignment. Ol' Man Joe  is an elderly gentleman, probably in his 70's. His hair is gray like the hide of an elephant. His glasses sit precariously on the tip of his nose and he often pushes them up so that he can see more clearly. He sits at the computer with yesterday's newspaper and a cup of cold coffee. I wonder why he has a newspaper when he can read it online. So I ask him, "Joe, why not just read the newspaper on the computer? Why do you insist on reading a newspaper?" He looks at me with misty eyes and says, "Sometimes the real thing is better!" He hands me his cup of cold coffee in a cardboard cup. He says he doesn't taste the same as when it is freshly brewed and served in a coffee mug...

There's a story here with Joe. He is having a hard time with how fast the world is changing and how things are not staying the same. I wonder where he will take me...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#TeachersWrite Day 2 A Quick Write

Phil Bildner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Sluggers! series has challenged us with a prompt to people watch. We are to create a list of characters or character traits based on what we see. Such a simple activity that leads to wonderful ideas...and so I watch.

  • An elderly man sitting at a computer. The wrinkles on his face scream that he has lived a long and perhaps hard life.  What is he reading? Why does he look so sad? Is he checking his mail again for the 100th time today and still no email from his kids or grandkids? 
  • A toddler running wild and free. Joy stretching across her face as she winds in and out of the bookshelves. Is she joyfully screaming because she broke free of momma's hand? Is she bubbling with excitement because she just found a copy of her beloved book that momma reads to her every night? 
  • Two friends who meet for lunch. The older woman is decisive and is eager to order lunch. She begins to get agitated as her younger friend takes her time deciding what to order. Why is she in such a hurry? What causes her to be so upset? Does the younger friend not notice? Or perhaps she doesn't care? Is this a frequent occurrence between these two women? Is it the ebb and flow of their relationship?
I have always enjoyed people watching. Today I was able to see them as characters and wonder what story they were telling. Is theirs a book I would pick up and read? Would it be the one that I couldn't put down until I had stayed up all night to finish reading it? I think maybe so...

Monday, July 6, 2015

#TeachersWrite Day 1

I've been anxiously patiently waiting for today for over a week since I first saw it mentioned on Twitter. Imagine having the opportunity and time to hone our craft as writers. That is exactly what we have been given for the next month. Each day we will be challenged to grow as writers as we focus on one idea at a time. Today's assignment is to wonder and create a list of those wonderings.

So...I wonder...
  • if I will really be able to do this
  • if I will stay committed to the daily task
  • if my students ever feel the way I do about writing

My gut feeling is yes to all three of them. So as I sit here in the library my wonders are:
  • I wonder if anyone is saddened as I am when I walk in and realize that I will never be able to read all of these great books in my lifetime.
  • I wonder if at night when everyone has gone home, do my favorite characters tell their stories to other characters in other books?
  • I wonder besides audio books, what if there was a book that when you opened it the words began to speak? I this my book to write? 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ziplining in Mexico vs Committing to a Writing Camp...I'm not sure which one scared/s me more!

So anyone who knows me, knows how much I hate going to the dentist!! "Would you like numbing gel?" Yes, please.  "Nitrous gas?" Yes, please. And so it was during the last weeks of school, that I found myself in the dentist chair when a text comes through from my sister.  
We were leaving for a trip to Puerto Villarta right after school got out. She had found some excursions that she thought we would all want to do! The trip was called Extreme Adventures!  The word Extreme should have sent warning bells off in my head. I have never zip lined before. Didn't even know that was on my bucket list! And so without thinking, I said yes!! I did make it to Mexico and I did go ziplining.  Fast forward through finishing my first run, hurting my finger, (thinking it was just jammed), to later finding out it was fractured with a 90 degree rotation, to having surgery to having lots of time on my hands due to bedrest and recovery.
So I started spending more time on Twitter. I found Teachers Write 2015. I've always loved to read! I've always loved to write. But I don't make or find the time to write! Here was a challenge to force to me do just that! It is only for a month and it is free! #teacherswrite
Every day in my classroom, I ask my learners to read and write. Is this a scary thing for them? Do they struggle to find their voice and share their passions with me?  I'm not sure where this writing journey will take me, but, I do know that I can be scared and not try or I can zip along and see where it takes me!!