As a child, Wilson’s World by Edith Thacher Hurd and Clement Hurd, was one of my favorite picture books. It’s out of print now, but you can purchase used versions from various sellers. The title character, Wilson, begins by painting a world– and his world becomes busier and busier, more and more crowded, and grayer and grayer as he works until he declares “Phooey” on his entire creation. “‘This isn’t the kind of world I want. This isn’t MY WORLD!’” he states, and he is left to wonder about the kind of world he really wants.
For many people, the pandemic has challenged us to think about what we really want and what we really value. While the pandemic has had insurmountably tragic consequences, it has also been a time to reset where we are in life and rethink what matters most. These thoughts have been part of some people’s personal lives, as well as professional lives. The Two Writing Teachers co-authors have grappled with our priorities in our writing, our conversations, and our planning around the 15th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, or SOLSC, which will begin on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Just as Wilson asked himself what kind of world he wanted, we have also asked ourselves about the original purpose, rationale, and mission of our annual writing event.
Above all else, our goal for the SOLSC, regardless of the year and the surrounding events, is to nurture a global writing community by building and sustaining writing lives within a community of writers. Through this community, we impact students around the world. When students have teachers who write, they have teachers who understand the processes, challenges, and rewards of identifying and communicating ideas, enhancing teachers’ ability to lead a group of student writers.
When we focused our attention on the true meaning and mission of the SOLSC, we realized it is not about the prizes. Yes, there are some Slicers who may have joined because of the possibility of a prize, but they have returned annually because they value the community and the experience of challenging themselves as writers. The SOLSC is about establishing the authentic connections that happen when people write alongside one another– even when miles and oceans separate them.
At the end of Wilson’s World, Wilson created a new picture, keeping the world more like what he wanted. We are also re-envisioning our metaphorical canvas. As we unfold the details of the 15th Annual SOLSC, you will read descriptions of logistics and expectations, but you will not see posts about the Prize Reveal or the call for a Welcome Wagon. One of the main purposes of the Challenge is to strengthen ourselves as writers by paying attention to community and audience, and we want that to be inherent and organic– not fueled by prizes or assigned responders. Additionally, at its core, the Challenge makes participants authentic writers, and there is no prize necessary for the reward of sitting beside and teaching students, writer to writer,
We value every single member of this unique writing community. We can’t wait to see you in March! We encourage you to invite others to participate and experience the intrinsic pride, authentic relationships, and important learning that happens when writing for 31 consecutive days.