Slice of Life Tuesday: Summer Words & Story Blurbs

Summer feels delayed this year. Maybe it's because while other teachers were tidying up their files and locking their doors for the last time of the 2011-2012 school year, I was packing my room into boxes and moving all my many teacherly items to a new room.

Or perhaps it's because my oldest son graduated from high school this year, and we spend the week following the last day of school in a whirlwind of ceremonies and celebrations, which included a triple-helping of family gatherings. 

We rock out, even when graduating.
All of these things have me tilted slightly off-balance. It's not my normal June. There was no neat and tidy exit from school, no final day dance-off in the kitchen at home with the kids, no 48-hour sleep-a-thon signaling the beginning of a cozy month (or two) to write lazily through my days.

Instead, the boys and I have slowly crept into summer. I feel as if I have my hands out before me in the dark, worried I'll slam into something that sends me hurtling back towards no-summer-land. It's weird. So hopefully you'll pardon me for being even more addle-brained than normal.

I'm ever-thankful for Kate Messner's (free!) Teachers Write! workshop, which is helping me ease into summer. Each day there is a different writing activity to explore, and there's even a FaceBook group of over 700 members sharing writing and mumble-grumbling when the writing doesn't come so easily. And did I mention it's free?

I'm still a little behind, working on an outline for my new-old work-in-progress, but I love reading the amazing words all the other teacher-librarian-writers are sharing. It takes a whole lot of courage to put your writing out there for others to see, but the growth from this scary little act is unreal. It's hard to explain, really -- but when you think that this is what we ask our students to do on a daily basis -- share! grow! learn! take risks! -- it seems only common sense that we step out of the shadows and do the same.

So, in the spirit of sharing, here's a bit of what the Teachers Write! workshop has me working on this week. I'm mostly just throwing words on paper, trying to scratch out the details of a story that has to be told. I've written and rewritten many versions of this story through the years, collecting bits and pieces and putting them together in the only way I know how. In the past two years, it became clear to me that this is THE story. The one I have to tell, because it's been trying to get out for so long.

Anyhow -- enough blabbing. Here's a rough snippet of the setting I played with last night:

Gulf Breeze Elementary was more sand than school. It seeped into our halls, permeated the carpet, and mingled with our textbooks. The playground was a white, sandy expanse of land filled with all the normal recess necessities: swing set, parallel bars, jungle gym, kickball field and a whole lot of forest lining the farthest edges of our dusty recess paradise. For a loner like me, it was easy to get lost just beyond the thick evergreen branches at the edge of our playground. It was easy to create a world that belonged only to me. A world that was safe. From my haven in the trees, I dug in red clay until my hands were stained ochre right up to my knobby little wrists. I etched out pictures and traced words in the sand with sharp, broken twigs. Games of tag danced by, just feet from my hidden sanctuary in the shade. I listened as their words giggled past me, only to be lost in the trees, “Missed me, missed me, now ya gotta kiss me!” And I watched from afar as girls with golden hair and skin hooked one leg around a high chin-up bar and sailed round and round, spinning like pinwheels, their long hair making colorful streamers in their wake.

It's difficult sometimes to remember that I'm not seeking perfection when working on a story. I'm seeking words -- feelings, glimpses of character, the story revealing itself word by word. Throw all those words out there into the open, mix them around, and let perfection come from the creative imperfection of the process.

1 comment:

  1. That paragraph is lovely! I can really see the images you are creating, and your word choices are so strong. I love this character, and how he(she?) is so aware of what everyone else is doing.

    I'm fighting with my story too. I keep seeing everyone else making so much progress, and I'm slogging through 50 words at a time... *sighs* Ah well, at least I'm not trying to make a living through my writing, right?