Monday, 16 September 2013

More on Writing (via Neil Gaiman) - On to our first drafts

The process of writing can be magical — there times when you step out of an upper-floor window and you just walk across thin air, and it’s absolute and utter happiness. Mostly, it’s a process of putting one word after another.
-Neil Gaiman 

I should be sleeping. 
It is 11:55 and I should have been winding down, tucked in bed, book in hand an hour ago.  But no. Instead,  here I am sneaking in a blog post addressed to you guys because I looked at my twitter feed in between pages of my book and found this - words of wisdom from one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman.  I know, I could have waited and posted this tomorrow like a normal person but I just had to share it here today.  

There is a lot to be said for writing first drafts. And I have a blog post brewing about being more forthcoming about my writing life. My own successes and pitfalls.  My frustrations and epiphanies. What and how I have been writing recently, as I write the tasks we have designed along with you. It is still taking shape in my head though, all of it,  so stay tuned.  

In the meantime, here is Gaiman giving wonderful advice to all writers, young and not so young. Whether you are writing the first draft of your memoir (Grade 7) or beginning to draft your opinion essay (Grade 8) or like me writing both (gulp), here are some golden nuggets to think about.  Tell me what you think? 

Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices — you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only youcan tell — because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.
-Neil Gaiman 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Writing and the Writing Process

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” 

We value a lot of things and writing is one of them.  

This year, we want to share and honor this love for writing some more starting with the right mindset -- We are ALL writers -- so let's BE writers.  We believe that just as long as you have something to say, are willing to work on arriving at the best way you know how to say what is in you, and keep at it to see the pieces develop and evolve, then you ARE a writer. At some point you might want to share versions and iterations of these ideas, thoughts, feelings, opinions and interpretations of the world to someone else or a wider audience and that's fine because that's part of writing too.  

Write on! 
Which brings me here...the writer's writing process.  Every writer has one... (press play to view keynote via Haiku Deck) and publishing is only part of it.  

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Anyway, we are excited to collect ideas, draft, revise, proofread and publish with you.  We will respect the/your/our process/es and work on skills per part along the way as we see fit.   There will be  various spaces and opportunities for us, (yes us) to write and workshop what we write (through our gift to you - your personal writing journals; we will have our own as well). We will also be sensitive to everyone's level of readiness to share what each of you come up with to an audience.  We understand that these levels are different from person to person. Publishing beyond the classroom will happen but when and where, it will be up to you.  

If you haven't received your writer's journal yet, it's coming, don't worry.  :)  That gift is on its way.  Also, conversations regarding the blogs will take place when the time is right.  Stay tuned.  

Man, I love writing - from the process (blood, sweat and tears) to the "product" (never really done).  

When I write, I am able to have a conversation with the page and myself, and often times, with others I know and well, the rest of the world I don't know. When I write, I get to clarify what I am thinking, address questions, plug loopholes, and refine my assertions.  I get to somehow make sense of my experiences and emotions, sometimes surrender to things that are painful so I can forgive and in the end, find a lesson, embrace the point,  express gratitude and love for this life even if I end up with more questions.  Writing has also allowed me to experiment with language, hone my craft, grow my art and tell stories. 
Words come together, lines form in surprising ways and paragraphs take compelling shapes. No draft is ever really done so I keep at it. The work continues because as Paul Valery asserts, "A piece of writing is never really finished, only abandoned."   I really do hope I do a good job of sharing this love for writing with you. That is one of my goals this year.  
Finally, a word from Sylvia Plath...  And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."  

And with that, let the writing process begin...

Making Connections: I am a learner too

So, it's been two weeks since Day 1 and I am stoked.  

I've been inspired by your questions, your enthusiasm, your openness and your positive energy. Thank you for making the beginning of the year very special. It's been time well spent setting up our physical, as well as the different bits of our virtual, learning spaces. There's a few more protocols to put into place but for now, we have what we need. August has been great, right? I can only imagine what September has in store for all of us. :)

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea just to recap some of the big ideas that we tackled early on last week. I learned a lot listening to your conversations.  I also appreciated seeing the diversity and the commonalities of the things you read, watched, viewed, consumed last summer. It was interesting because from that we talked a lot about making connections. Whether it's connecting different texts we've read (our summer reading trails), to connecting to ideas with our peers at the table (The Harkness table discussions) , to connecting the different parts of us that form who we are, all of the lines that move from one person to another, to one idea to another, to one realization to another, in the end, as we looked at the connections blobs on the white board, it wasn't hard to see that we all connect somehow. The intersections, extensions and entanglements - of our ideas, choices, preferences, questions that we ask, and the selves that form based on our contexts and experiences -- become the basis for our capacity to grow as individuals and to grow as a community.  We cannot learn, grow, live in isolation.  We need each other. So yeah, I told you it was so much more than just "so, what did you read last summer?"   What was your main take away from our initial classes?  

Anyway, I have linked the chart from our mini-lesson on making connections below. These mini-lesson charts will stay up on our walls so that you can refer to them easily when you are in class. You will find the same charts in our class notes and maybe this blog.  And oh, just like you, I am a learner too. A recent iPad app discovery has allowed me to make our simple chart look a little cooler on our online spaces.  Check out a spruced up version (through Haiku Deck) below as well.  I hope both versions help us remember, apply, practice the skills and learn them for keeps.  :)  

Our classroom chart 
Just press play >

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

So, until my next entry...I hope you guys had a great weekend.  Here's to a spectacular week ahead.