By all measures, I had a writer’s day.I woke up early (but not as early as I intended; still, 6 a.m. did the trick) and hit the daybook immediately, followed by a full hour of watercolors before the family started to stir. I’ve been experimenting with various blends, wet and dry brushes, all with bringing a new look to some of the photography I’ve been doing recently.
I’m having trouble with watercolor daisies, though. I’m determined to get that just exactly right by the end of the week. I’ve got a note card I want to send off, but it would be wrong to send with naturally challenged daisies…
Then it was off to the pool for about 90 minutes as my two daughters had swim lessons and my son built sand castles in the world’s most wonderful sandbox. This is a miniature playground built around a tall oak, which provides plenty of shade for the kids as they bulldoze, construct, sift, and dream away the morning hours. I brought along Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind to re-re-read and do some of the exercises. The first one, where she talks about ten-minute writes where you begin with one starter (“I remember”) and then take its opposite for the next ten-minute write (“I don’t remember”). Wow….
I decided to write about remembering the first time I actually workshopped a piece of writing. I remembered getting ready for the workshop, working on that first draft at my dining room table, pressing hard on that sheet of looseleaf with my blue-Bic ballpoint, pushing the ink into the paper so that, when I was finished, I had to peel the paper from the wood, where the indentations from my writing stuck to the tabletop. That was a fun write to do this morning.
Then I turned the tables and did my “I don’t remember” piece about that very same topic, and what I discovered was that I don’t remember the actual workshop. I don’t remember getting peer feedback, although I knew there must have been some. That was the whole purpose of the activity. That led me to think about my own students and the workshops we do. What do they really get out of them? Do they remember them at all?
That led me to this: What do my students really need to remember at all when I teach them writing?
I turned the page and I drafted the first chapter of what I believe to be the essentials to good writing. This chapter focused on Audience and the reasons why we resist writing in the first place. Where it ends up eventually, I don’t know. But I did cherish the thought of having these 90-minute writing sessions to focus on these chapters. 30 days at the pool means 30 chapters….
When I returned home, I shared Natalie Goldberg’s “rules of writing” with my summer grad students on our online forum, and when we went back to the pool for our own afternoon of swimming, I enjoyed reading more Goldberg, some Lamott, and a little Thich Nhat Hanh.
After dinner, I went through my old writing files and found a few gems that I can rework. I also found some email correspondence with old friends. Some of it saddened me, as much has changed over the last eight years. But much of the words reminded me of all I have to be thankful for in the present, and that was a nice surprise.
I end the night blogging, thinking about my friends out there who may be writing in their blogs, too, doing our best to stay a little sane, support each other, and express love in any way we know how.
I hope you had a good day, too. There’s so much to be grateful for…
(photo taken at Loch Raven Reservoir, Nikon D70s, 18-55mm Nikkor lens, 6/19/08)