Friday, January 11, 2019

Pieces of My Writing Journey

When I was about eleven or twelve, my dad noticed that I was always buried in my spiral notebook: mapping out stories, creating poems, sketching cartoons, generating lists of characters, writing as much down as I could. Pencil to paper. Always. Being the kind of dad who never missed the opportunity to find a treasure at a yard sale, one day he bounded into our house donning a huge grin about his newest gem - a manual Smith Corona Typewriter. 

My second-hand Smith Corona Typewriter proudly held a spot on my student desk, complete with notepads and pencils surrounding it. Following my daily walk home from school and a substantial snack, I often retreated to my typewriter. I loved the loud clack clack of the keys, the smell of correction fluid, and even pride in owning a typewriter. Most of all, I cherished my time alone nested in my room writing. A few years later I received a new electric typewriter and alternated between using the electric and manual. Throughout middle school and high school, I always found time to write - especially poems, short stories, a few very bad novels, and of course, several research reports. 

In college, I continued to write most days, but little of my writing was personal. Instead my academics took priority, and I wrote research papers, literary analysis, lesson plans, and persuasive essays. Upon graduating from college - also around the time my parents moved - I sold both of my typewriters at our yard sale. I figured that I wouldn't need them anymore since I now had a desktop computer. 

Unfortunately, when I sold the typewriters, I also set aside my personal writing. Of course I had plenty of pens, paper, notebooks, and a desktop computer, but I did not make any time for writing. After all, I was busy - first as a newly minted English teacher, then a wife, next attending graduate school, and finally parenting. 

For at least a decade I forgot how much I loved to write.   

It wasn't until I was in my mid to late thirties that I began writing again. As a part of learning how to be a more effective teacher of writers, I realized that I needed to be a writer myself. Bit by bit, I came back to writing - first creating a writer's notebook for a part of a local training from staff developers of The Reading and Writing Project. Around the same time I discovered the work of Kelly Gallagher, and I starting writing with my students. Several years later, when I became a literacy coach, I began doing a lot more reflecting in my beliefs as a writer and teaching colleagues about writing. 

In the last five years I gradually added back daily writing. Not for any assignments or term papers or because I wanted to write with my students. I carved out time to write just for me. 

It took me a while for me to get into a strong daily writing routine, but now I write at least three full pages a day. My daily writing isn't always uninterrupted or even a place by myself, but I have fiercely held on to my writing routine. 

In retrospect, I wish that I had hung onto my typewriter, especially the manual one. Maybe I would have continued writing. Maybe I would not have stopped writing. This cannot be changed. 

What I am most grateful for is that I came back to writing. 

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