I was talking with a friend and colleague of mine, Deb Gaby. She was commenting about how often in life when we begin to think differently, this new awareness crops up in many different aspects of our life. Interestingly enough, Deb and I are both thinking deeply about collecting the stories which define our lives.
She was sharing with me the way books help her find the important stories from her life. When she connects to a book there is often a personal reason for this connection. She is using these connections to help her collect important life stories. I think this is a teaching point we could use in our Writing Workshops as well.
I’m taking a class at Big Picture Scrapbooking from Ali Edwards. The class is titled Yesterday and Today and is all about collecting stories from our lives both yesterday and today. For me it translates to making sense of today with stories from yesterday. Here is the scrapbook page I created on the first day of class:
A few weeks ago Ali shared this quote:
I’m also reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott given to me by one of my best friends. Lamott writes:
Remember that you own what happened to you (6).
She also writes:
I tell them [her writing students] they’ll want to be really good right off, and they may not be, but they might be good someday if they just keep the faith and keep practicing. And they may even go from wanting to have written something to just wanting to be writing, wanting to be working on something, like they’d want to be playing the piano or tennis, because writing brings with it so much joy, so much challenge. It is work and play together (xxix).
And . . .
Sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time. And sometimes when they are writing well, they feel that they are living up to something. It is as if the right words the true words, are already inside them, and they just want to help them get out. Writing this way is a little like milking a cow: the mild is so rich and delicious, and the cow is so glad you did it. I want the people who come into my class to have this feeling too (xxxvi).
All of this affirms within me the importance of students collecting bits of their lives. It reminds me of the importance of writing to make sense of life. A few weeks ago I blogged about tapping into the class as an authentic audience. I think more importantly is to develop response groups with in a class so students can get to know one another on a personal level and allow themselves the freedom to write the meaningful stories, the tough stories, the important stories of their lives.
In one week I’ll begin teaching a ninth grade English class. I’ve decided we will support one another in telling the stories of our lives via response groups. I’m also dedicating myself to creating a safe place where students are willing to tell the defining stories of their lives.
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.