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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I hate this class.

Four words written in a random notebook.  Random because he hadn’t brought his Voices Strong notebook to class. 

Four words that made my heart sing. 

In fact, my heart was singing so loudly that I had to celebrate.  Although I didn’t reveal to the rest of the class what his words said, I was moved enough to stop the class dead in its tracks to point out what A had done: He had written unapologetically.  It is part of our daily mantra. 

“That’s a good thing?” A glared at me from behind strands of hair he’d tipped his head to force over his eyes, incredulous. 

“Of course! We start class pledging to write unapologetically every day.  Writing from who you are, not who you think I want you to be is our primary goal for this semester.  It is what this class is about.”  I knew I was chirping.  I was aware that my voice, my cheeriness, chafed A’s apathetic 8th grade attitude.   But I simply couldn’t help myself.

I love this class.  Even those four words written in a random notebook.  Especially those four words written in a random notebook.

They are 22 Voices Strong.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


There is only one more Tuesday until school starts.  It was a short summer this year.  It feels that way every year, but this year it is true.

Even so, my summer was packed with all sorts of good things.  And as I head into the school year, I am working harder than ever to hold onto the feeling those good things gave me. 

I really felt like my summer began when I headed to Indiana for the All-Write Summer Institute.  That experience propelled me into summer with a light heart, a slow pace, and a burning passion somewhere deep inside me to be better—at teaching, at writing, at collaborating, at life.

I had fully intended to capture all of these moments I was so determined to hold onto here on my blog.  But every time I tried to write how much Penny Kittle’s double session on the work of Donald Graves meant to me, my words felt inadequate.  It was a moving experience—one that is now part of who I am as a teacher and writer.  One that words simply can’t capture. 

So, I tried to move on to summing up how awesome it was to kick around Winona Lake with women from five different states who had just met face to face for the first time, but felt like the best of old friends.  Again, I found the experience to be so personal I just couldn’t convey what it meant about who I am and who I will be from now on.

Even when I sat down, with a huge smile on my face, to express the energy in the room when Mary Helen and Tammy presented the best books for teaching writing, I couldn’t seem to get it just so.  Mary Helen’s ability to make an entire room filled with people feel personally welcomed, like her words are one big group hug, just doesn’t come across the same when written.  Tammy’s outrageous stories about chickens, bees, and hiking up her skirt to climb ladders make her larger than life in a way that words cannot do justice. 

And so, many summer Tuesdays came and went without a single posted word.  Though not for lack of goodness to share.  Nor from lack of writing.  Maybe sometimes, some things just seep too quickly into our bones to be captured by words.