If you’ve read my new book, then you know that I’m a huge supporter of what my friend Michelle Haseltine is doing over at #100DaysofNotebookKeeping and Beyond! Last week, she welcomed fellow notebook keepers back into that community, where everyone makes a commitment to 100 days of notebook keeping.
I started last year, floundered, and eventually quit.
This year, I’m planning to go the distance.
One of the things that I love most about the community Michelle has created is the diversity of experience I see inside of it. Some are very comfortable with writing, and others are just committing to the practice for the very first time, perhaps. Many are teachers, and they work with writers of all ages. A few share beautiful, artistically composed pages each day. Others, like me, are scribbling fast through the uncertainty of these days, sharing what we like, and using different apps to keep our words private while presenting group members with kaleidoscopes of color that transform letters and words into something that looks more like art. Have a peek at the post that Michelle shared here in order to learn more, if you’d like.
Last week, I shared a hope for this new year with all of you: I hoped you would write for yourselves this year, and I hoped that you might find a community where others could connect with your words, empathize with your feelings, and benefit from your thoughts.
And now, last week feels like an eternity ago.
Yeah, and so, I did quite a bit of ugly notebooking this week. I didn’t share all of it with the group, but I’m glad I took the time nonetheless. Somehow, getting everything out of my aching head and heart and onto a page created a container of sorts. It helped me breathe again.
Do you ever talk with your students about writing in this way?
Do you ever offer them a peek into your own writing life–the messiness of it all and more importantly–the gifts it brings? You don’t have to share your posts in order to share your process and what it offers you.
So many people believe that the only writing that matters is the stuff that a publisher accepts. I used to be one of those people, and I’m wondering now if I might have thought differently if I’d had a teacher who framed writing differently for me. I’ve written four books now, and I know from experience that this isn’t true. The writing that matters most to me comes in the form of notebook entries that help me notice and reflect on my life, blog and social media posts that help me share my thoughts and feelings with those who might say something back, and the things I’ve written for my family and friends over the years.
The writing that matters most to me is the writing that helps me feel less alone, better understood, and as if I am truly seen. This is what I want the young writers that I teach to know about writing and my relationship with it now. This is the relationship that I hope they will have with writing, too.
It’s taken nearly fifty years, but I can say with confidence that even if I’d never published a book, I’d consider myself a writer. I had no greater reminder of that than this week, when it dawned on me–over and over again–that I needed to write in order to make sense of things, share my feelings with others, and connect with other friends who were doing the same. All of that writing was pretty simple, quickly scribbled, and full of errors. It would inspire no one. It didn’t inspire me. It helped, though.
And even though I managed to stay off Facebook for five whole days–honoring my new year’s resolution–I found myself scrambling right back there when the world began feeling even more uncertain than it already did. My friends were there–in one place at one time. Some of my favorite teacher friends and colleagues were there, too. I wrote for them, but they knew I was also writing for me.
And I felt less alone.
I hope that you write this week, and I hope that your students do, too. I hope you write together–not perfectly, but purposefully. I hope your purposes are your own.
I’ve left a newsletter full of ideas that might delight, inspire, and comfort all of you right here.
And if I haven’t said this lately, I’m so grateful for all of you.
It’s hard, being COVID-isolated for so long. Especially now. And I know very well that some of you are more alone than I am, too. I’m thinking of you. Join me and a small group of other welcoming humans on Thursday night at 7:30 EST for a coffee hour on Zoom if you’d like. The invite is in the newsletter. If you’re new, just drop me a line to let me know you’re coming so that I look for you in the waiting room.
Take care of yourself and one another this week.