a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Monday, June 18, 2012


I hemmed.  I hawed.  I bit the bullet and joined the Teachers Write challenge hosted primarily by Kate Messner.

I had big plans.  I had good intentions.  Then summer took hold of me. 

I could whine about why the challenge has turned out to not be a good fit for me  (blog posts are too long to read and focus because they are chock full of good information and not at all skimmable, too many fascinating links to eat up valuable writing time, such an overwhelming amount of participants that makes it difficult to feel part of a community, the thought of cozying up that giant community with a critique group—YIKES!), but that’s not really the point here.

End result:  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I decided to gracefully bow out of the Teachers Write challenge.

(…but this does not mean I am not a writer, right?)

I still have plans to write.  And I still have good intentions.  I am just shedding the pressure of the challenge.  (I still plan to stalk the challenge from a quiet distance to glean all the goodness I can when it fits my life) [yes I realize I don’t have to quit the challenge entirely in order to stalk from a distance and participate as desired, but if you know me, you know not being able to fully follow-through on my commitment does mean I have to quit the challenge]

So…what better way to shift my focus from the Teachers Write challenge of my summer-past than to join the Summer Throwdown reading challenge! #summerthrowdown

The challenge starts TODAY!  And to top it all off, I found time to read the last 100 pages of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler this afternoon.  So I already have a book to log for my team.  This is a good-natured contest between teachers and librarians.  My team, Team Teachers, is already in the lead.  Just saying.  

And it is my favorite kind of contest: a contest where everyone wins because everyone reads!

I am adding another layer to the challenge, but the challenge itself is simple: read and log your progress.  In addition to reading, I plan to blog about every book I finish (and love) on my book blog: Beyond the Middle.  Books I don’t love I might talk about here since I only post positive reviews on my book blog. (The whole point is to keep my former students reading beyond the time they spend in my classroom, so why post about a book I wouldn’t recommend?

Will you join me?  Get started at one of my favorite book review blogs: Heise Reads and Recommends!


  1. Oh, Christy! I was just thinking about what I was going to write about for tomorrow's slice . . . and I noticed that you posted - OMG. (By the way I never really say that --) but I could copy and paste your post! This is what I was thinking about just now. I committed to TeacersWrite, but haven't connected with any of it! It's not for me either. Oh well. I'm going to take the button away . . . I hate giving up on anything, but I think you understand! :) I feel better knowing I'm in good company. And I'm with you -- I'm ready to spend time just reading books this summer. But I'm not joining another challenge - just reading for me. :) Thanks for sharing and allowing me the opportunity to just let go . . . and yes, we are both still writers! :)

  2. How odd that we who were so excited are a little bit not now. I will keep reading the posts, & trying because I like what I'm working on, but there are just so many people that I feel like I need to take hours to read everyone's words & then there's no time for my own writing (& reading) work. I felt somewhat the same way in March, but it was manageable, with most having a similar 'slicing' goal. I saw about the throw down, Christy, but it's not for me either. I like reading at my own pace, etc. & participating on the Monday meme by Teach Mentor Texts.

    Anyway, I came over to see if you really want to try to read together. We could set up a Google Doc & read a chapter every other day or something like that. I just read the first two chapters. Would you like to read those & then let me know if you're still interested. I know that your ideas & responses would be good for me to learn from because you teach the same age I did. I work with all ages, but I taught middle school for years. Just reply here or on my post.

  3. Michelle and Linda, I totally respect your aversion to the throwdown, but I have to say it is a no-pressure challenge. There is no set number of books you have to read. You simply read at your comfortable pace and then record on the spreadsheet when you finish a book. Anything you read would go towards helping Team Teacher. Even if you only read one book for the duration of the challenge. There are no blog posts to read and comment on, no blog posts to write. It is REALLY simple. The only drawback is that you might end up hearing about MORE books you want to read through the twitter feed if you bother to visit it. :) Just saying.

    1. Okay, I'll check it out more thoroughly. I respect what you think, Christy. Let me know sometime about the book too! And thanks for the nice reply!

  4. The beauty of choice. It's your life and you make the decisions. Whatever you decide is the right decision for you. You would write and read without any challenges because this is a natural part of your life. I like that for you the outcome of the reading challenge is not just a list of books but recommendations for your students.

  5. Yea! When I signed up for Teachers Write, I thought it would be more relaxed. I try to read and write and play along, but it just isn't working for me. I guess I need my summer to be more relaxed. I want to read and write when I feel the need/want/inspiration. I think I'm not doing anything because of the "stress" of feeling like I have to. So along with the rest of you, I'm just going to back out and go back to my own way of writing.

    Can't wait to read your reviews of your new books! Happy reading and writing (when you want to).

  6. I hear ya. I've been checking in on the posts from Teachers Write and learning to pick those parts that make sense for me to try in my writing but I think that may have been the intent to begin with and it just took me a while to navigate it. I have not been responding to others writing or developing a community from it since it is such a large group. Lucky us for having SOLSC. This is a great group!