Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Slice of Life: Looking forward to a writing group

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

I'm looking forward to tomorrow night when I will have my first official writing group with a special group of students. We met a month ago to talk about the idea of a young people's writing group, and they were all so enthusiastic and excited about it. On the eve of our first real workshop, the seven of them--ages ten to thirteen--have shared their work on google drive and are reading each other's work with the intent of participating in our critique group tomorrow night at the town library. 

I have been thinking about the agreements we made a month ago at our introductory meeting, and I have written those agreements to hand out to my young writers tomorrow night. I have also just written up some important reminders as they plunge into the world of critique groups. If anyone out there has some additional ideas or suggestions to offer before these are official for my Young People's Writing Group, please share! Also, if anyone has any experience with running writing groups for this age group and can offer some tips, please do!

Here's what I have at this point:

Writing Group Agreements


  1. We will meet at 6:00 on Monday evenings once a month. We will plan to meet for an hour and fifteen minutes.
  2. We will divide into two groups, and the groups will be determined by Melanie a few days before we meet, based on the content of the writing.
  3. Please share your piece with your group members 48 hours before we meet so that they have time to read your work.
  4. We will have a 10-15 minute craft lesson before beginning workshopping each other. Topics will vary and suggestions are welcome.
  5. Read the work of others in your group and come prepared to talk about it.
  6. Each person will have their piece workshopped for 10-15 minutes, depending on how many people are in attendance.
  7. When your work is being discussed, you remain quiet--just listen! You will have an opportunity to speak during the final 2-3 minutes of your turn.

Important reminders

  1. When deciding between a smart comment and a kind comment, choose the kind one.
  2. Be sure to balance feedback with compliments.
  3. Monitor how much you are talking and how much you are listening. Speak enough so that people listen and listen enough so that people speak.

And now I'm off to read what's been shared so that I am in compliance with #4!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Slice of Life: In appreciation of writing communities

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

Many of us participate in the Slice of Life Challenge in March when we write every day. It's hard. We all know that. And at the end of the month, we're proud. We all feel that. And so grateful to Stacey for the vision she had to start this ritual over ten years ago. 

I completed my fourth of five 10-day residencies for my MFA in creative writing, and I have that same April 1st feeling but in an exponentially more intense way. For ten days, I shared a space and place with about forty other people who wanted to write, analyze, and critique books, stories, essays, poems, sentences, and words. Days began early, ended late--readings finished around 9 each night. Daily workshops went on for three hours in the morning, and if I took a break from afternoon seminars, I wrote. 

The Solstice MFA Program reflects its name. It changes lives. Meg Kearney is the director, and at the beginning of each residency, she impresses on all of us the importance of shedding any envy we have for other people's writing. "Fall in love with someone else's writing," she tells us in her opening remarks. She reminds us that when given the choice between being smart and compassionate, choose compassionate. "You're all helplessly intelligent, or you wouldn't be here," she says. Intelligence shows up when you're being kind. Our Solstice writing community is a well of energy, a source of intensity and creativity. 

I share this for two reasons. Maybe someone in this SOL community would be interested in the Solstice program--it works well for a teacher's schedule-- and also because I'm winding up for a thank you to this SOL community. Writers need energy--the magnetic spin of people in their world who share passions and understand why (or how) we sit down, sometimes more than once a week, and spin stories. Today as I write, I'm alone in my bedroom, but I'm not really alone since I know that when I hit publish, you'll be there. 

Happy Writing,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Slice of Life: Underwater Adventures on the Fourth of July

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

When Paul asked who wanted to go out snorkeling, my first response was no. The water's cold. Other people will want to go and there won't be equipment for me. I'm reading a really good book.

And then I remembered my One Little Word which is brave. And I remembered my resolve over the weekend to be a little more adventurous. And I thought about being with my best friends and talking about the power of the word YES.

I think everyone was a little surprised when I asked which wetsuit I should wear, and my nephews really got a kick out of watching me wrestle myself into it. There was no way I was going to snorkel in 68 degree water without a suit, though, so I fought through that wetsuit and got it on. Paul realized I was serious and he helped me with fins, then had a mask ready for me.

We stayed in the water for a while, and we spotted starfish, giant horseshoe crabs, blackfish, and lots of small fish. Paul was hunting for stripers, but maybe they were in deeper water. I haven't snorkeled since our Christmas vacation, and I forgot how peaceful it is to be in the water and feel part of the underwater world.

Almost as peaceful as the beautiful Fourth of July sunset we got to enjoy.

Happy Slicing and Happy Fourth!