Friday, March 26, 2010


At the beginning of this semester, I implemented a new writing program. I bought the students their own .99 cent notebook. The notebook was to be kept in the class. I had them personalize the front covers with nothing more than images from magazines affixed with glue.

Over the last few months, I've noticed that there are only four or five notebooks put back in the box each day. Ok.

Periodically, I check their notebooks for the required work. Today, I had three students come to me and ask if they could just show me their notebooks right now because they didn't want to leave them at school and then I had a student clutch her book and say it was her "security blanket." Did that make my day?

So, here is my thought/question for us...we write on our computers and if you're like me, you don't like to drag it along, fire it up etc. I know there are little hand held devices that are like notebooks, but the print is so fine, I'd have to put on my glasses-so what do you have to write on, quickly, constantly, when you're on the move? I have a little pink book that was given to me. But because I rely so much on computer writing, I haven't used it for a few months to write down those little details that make writing so great and unique. As soon as I finish this post, I'm putting it back in my purse.

What is your writer notebook?

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Jumping Fun Exercise!

I love the present participle and how it can take on the adjective form. For those of you who don't enjoy this grammar stuff-hang on, I'm going to show you the application that can sharpen your writing craft.

We can take a plain old verb and change it to a present participle by simply adding ing. We can then use it to modify a noun. Notice the fun language and description that comes to life.

verb: strut

present participle: strutting

Used to modify a noun: His strutting image reflected across the pond. (I'm making these up as I go).

Here are some of the descriptions my students came up with:



“The loitering stars twinkled a sense of comfort.” Shannara J



“The walking hair of the boy needed to be smoothed down.” Jenna K

Cynthia Rylant in her Newberry award winning book The Relatives Came, writes about hugging time, and uses the proper noun Virginia as an adjective, "wrinkled Virginia clothes." So verbals and nouns can both function as adjectives. You know when you've come up with a good one-it's a joyful surprise.

Anyone willing to try and post your effort?

Friday, March 12, 2010

There IS No Such Thing as a Writer

There are only re-writers.

I don't know if it's true, but I just read that Harper Lee's one and only magnificent novel was rejected 50 times. Imagine all the in-between re-writes. And in-between those re-writes were probably some great friends. Who told her it wasn't quite there. Yet. Keep going, but this part is really bad, and this character is sooooooooo in-authentic.

True story: My family and I were swimming in the ocean. We got in at point A and got out at point B. In between, the part of my bathing suit that covered my behind, ripped. When I walked out of the surf I had no idea I was so exposed. But my family let me know right away so I could cover-up.

I decided to give my manuscript to two voracious readers at school. I printed 2 copies without my name because I really wanted an HONEST opinion and if they knew it was me, I feared not getting an honest opinion. It felt really wonderful knowing I was anonymous and I would get honest feedback. The second student wasn't there, so I sent the other manuscript with a fellow teacher whose been asking to read my stuff and has daughters who are writers and readers. Paranoia set in--What if it's really terrible? Will I embarrass myself in front of colleagues? One of my students? Ugh. Then I wondered if you, my wonderful writing friends really haven't told me that my rough manuscripts are terrible? And that is what this post , I think, is supposed to be about.

A writing group should be the family that walks out of the surf with you and lets you know your backside is exposed. Before you send your stuff into the world.

I know this is sort of a recurring theme in my posts. I'm not sure why. Personal insecurities?

I'll let you know what my beta readers really think.