That's the title of my favorite book on the writing craft by Stephen King. This summer, I had the opportunity to reflect on the writing process and the writing life. I had the marvelous opportunity to coteach a summer writing class for fourth and fifth graders with W.H. Beck, the marvelously gifted author of Malcolm at Midnight. To be honest, while embarking on creating and teaching this class, I was struggling with my writing. I was finding more excuses not to sit down and write on any given day. Granted my husband and children may prefer if I do things like laundry and match socks, really these things do take away from writing time. This is not to say that my house was actually looks neat and tidy, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I simply had lost some inspiration to write.
Our spin on a teaching writing blended ideas and inspiration from Aimme Buckner's Notebook Know-How with examples of great read alouds texts as well as our own experiences and reflections. In accord with Buckner's ideas for Writer's Notebooks, our students wrote Daily Pages and made lists to inspire future writing. Through our interactions with each other and with the students, discussions developed around topics like developing an exciting opening line for a book and how well written book can be easily summed up.
Teaching and thinking about writing reminded me of the fun of it all. For the frst time, I am trying my hand at some children's nonfiction, about a rescue dog. I once read that when asked how he did his best writing, Ernest Hemingway responded something to the effect that it was easy (excuse the paraphrase). He simply cut himself open and bled all over the page. I feel I do my best writing when I write from heart or from the gut, when I am truly honest and real in what and how I write.
There were little details about writing which I had forgotten or set aside over the year, like the importance of writing regularly and of not leaving a work in progress for too long, though I do believe sometimes a work does need to be set aside so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. Most of all, my discussions with Ms. Beck and with our students refreshed and inspired me. I have concluded that though writing is a solitary endeavor, you cannot do it completely alone. In the way that all other professionals talk and collaborate around their crafts, so, too, should writers. I, for one, need a writing support system. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful community of writers and readers around me, for which I thank all of you. I hope you know who you are and that you are so greatly appreciated.