100 Things About Me as a Writer

I am a writer.  I wouldn’t say that I am an author, because I haven’t been published, but I definitely write.  And I write a lot.

So here are 100 things about me as a writer:

1. I started my writing journey way back in kindergarten and have loved it ever since.

2.  When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be an author when I grew up.

3. Writing has always been one of my favorite subjects in school.

4. I still have writing pieces from when I was a kid.  I think they’re saved in my mom’s dresser.

5. In junior high, I wrote mostly short stories about girls who were babysitters or who had crushes on boys in their classes.

6. As an adult, I usually write expository text or to tell my opinion/thoughts on a topic.

7. I officially started my Writer’s Notebook in June of 2005.

8. I am now filling up my 10th notebook.  Each one is different and tells something about my life at the time I was writing in it.

9. My favorite authors as a reader are my favorite as a writer.  I like the way their words sound.

10.  Sharon Creech, Ralph Fletcher and Jerry Spinelli as mentors of mine even though I don’t know them.

11.  I write mostly for myself.

12. Sometimes I write so I can share it with my students.  My Writer’s Notebooks and my students’ needs are the main resources I use in my teaching.

13. I’d love to publish a book someday.

14. I write better when I have choices about what it is (i.e. format, length, etc.)

15.  If I have an assignment, I will always write longer than is asked.   It’s probably really annoying to my teachers!

16. I learn a lot from my students when I read their writing.

17. I like feedback, but only if it’s positive.  Hey, we’re being honest here, right? 🙂

18. I read almost everything like a writer, looking for things I can use in my own writing.

19. I love words.  I collect quotes and often write down the things other people say.

20. The outside of my Writer’s Notebooks are covered with things that inspire me.

21. I am a “pen” person.  I could shop for hours for just the right one.  What it looks like when I write is really important.  Well at least to me. I’m kind of obsessed. 🙂

Wow–that was harder than I thought it would be.  Didn’t get as far as I thought I would.  Hopefully I’ll come back to add some more soon.  Check back again, will ya?

What would you say about yourself as a writer?  Could you add anything else to my list?




Hopefully you’ve already read about me as a reader.  If not, I’d say it’s worth a few minutes of your time.  Please?  🙂

And so as I sat down to write about myself as a writer, I decided I needed to start with a confession instead.  Remember when I first posted about that really cool summer online writing camp I was doing?  Well, at that point I was really excited about the prospects of learning and writing with amazing teachers/writers/librarians (and I still am) and was anxious to see where the process would take me.  I really had no expectations.

I dug in, and was finally comfortable enough to post the first two things I wrote.  And that’s when it all went downhill.  Somehow the wind came out of my sails, and I have not done a single. assignment. since.

In many ways that bothers me.  I don’t like to not succeed.  I am naturally a perfectionist, and I usually take that to the nth degree when it comes to school/writing/reading/anything professional.  I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and so if I can’t do it all and do it right, I don’t want to do it.  But with this, I only did two assignments and then I hit a brick wall.

But after I got over the initial disappointment in myself (annoyance, really), I sat down to reflect on what had happened.  I think part of my problem was that I write mostly for myself.  I write when I need to write–which is usually to process feelings or to collect moments I don’t want to forget.  So when presented with a “job” to do, I had a hard time figuring out how to do that.   Since I write for myself, I had a hard time when the assignments/exercises were related to developing characters or settings, or outlining plans for a story.  I did not go into the camp with the plan of writing or finishing a novel.

Ok, so what matters here?  Does it really matter that I set out to do something and didn’t finish it? Or does it really matter more that I walk away with something that I learned?  I say the latter is more important.

I learned to be okay with not being perfect.  I learned that sharing your writing with strangers is hard.  Especially when you don’t really have a choice or you’re not quite sure what it’s “supposed” to look like.  These are both really important seeing as how I ask that of my student writers every day.  I know I’ll think of those times really differently in the future.  Yes, I’ll still ask them to share, but I’ll obviously have more understanding of how difficult it is.  I learned that sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and not care so much about what people say about your writing.  What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂

Oh, and just for the record, I do have plans of jumping back into Teachers Write! at some point.  The great part is that it’s all archived on the blog and I can do it at my own pace.  So yes, I’d like to say that somehow I will finish what I started, even if it looks a little different than I first thought.

Did you do Teachers Write! this summer?  How is it going for you? 


100 Things About Me as a Reader

Ahhh….as I sit here on my bed boat with Riley to my side “reading” his next Magic Tree House book, I am happy.  I’m under the covers, and the only thing that would make it a little bit better was if that breeze was blowing overhead right now (aka the ceiling fan that is almost always running).

So hopefully you came by a week or so ago to read my posts for Teachers Write.  I HATE that I haven’t gotten back into that–sorry, summer took over–but hey, I HAVE been writing.  Just not what I’m “supposed” to be writing for my assignments.  Instead I’ve been writing for me.  Which is what I find the most joy in doing.  Yes, someday soon I’ll get back into that again.  Maybe.  And if not, then I need to be ok with that, too.  🙂

Alright, so back to business.  You can tell by the title that I’m writing this post to tell you about me as a reader.  I got the whole idea from Franki Sibberson on her blog, and even carried it over to describing me as a runner, as she did on another blog that she writes.  So when I got the “things about me as a runner” idea, I figured I’d have-a-go at the reader and writer ones, too, and see where it takes me.

So that’s why you’re here now.  Hopefully I’ll get close to 100, but I’m pretty certain I will not.  Let’s find out together, ok?

So….100 things about me as a reader:

1. I was a big fan of the Berenstain Bears when I was a kid.  I am told that the first book I read on my own was The Berenstain Bears and the Sitter, and we still laugh to this day how I pronounced between like “beet-ween”.  I think that’s not a bad attempt actually.  It has the word “be” in it, after all.  🙂

2. I read every Babysitter’s Club I could get my hands on during my junior high years.  And yes, I had dreams of starting my own.  It didn’t happen.

3.  I also read Nancy Drew.  Mystery is one of my favorite fiction genres still today.

4.  As an adult, I read mainly to learn.  I could read a professional book every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.

5. I sometimes have a hard time remembering details when I read.  My husband hates it that I can’t tell him everything about what I read.  I kind of hate it, too.

6.  In the summer, I read as much as I can, and it’s usually juvenile fiction.  That’s kind of my bridge between professional and pleasure reading.  Best of both worlds since I’m a teacher.

7. I like books that are set in classrooms.

8. Sharon Creech is probably my favorite author.

9.  Walk Two Moons is one of my all-time favorite books.

10.  Jerry Spinelli runs a close second.

11.  I read Crash by Jerry Spinelli every year in my classroom.  Another favorite of mine.

12.  I have an easier time reading books that has short chapters than long ones.  Granny Torrelli Makes Soup is a great example of that–the chapters can be just one page.  The One and Only Ivan is, too.  Oh, and Because of Mr. Terupt.  And…(I could probably go on and on, but I won’t.)

13. I don’t like to read books that are longer than about 200 pages.  There’s something about it that makes me discouraged.

14.  I prefer to read the whole book in one setting.

15.  I often write about what I read when I’m finished.  It’s usually about questions I have, or how the story made me feel, or even how I could tie that book into something I teach in my classroom.

16. I don’t think I would like to have an e-reader.  I need to be about touch the pages.  And maybe even write on them.  With a real pen.

17. I love the “smell” of a book.

18. I visit the library every week religiously.

19.  I hate to admit this, but I pay huge late fees to the library because I often keep my books too long. (Don’t tell anyone, ok?  Probably not good since I’m a teacher!)

20. I have checked out over 60 books at one time.  (See why I have such horrible late fees?  Believe me, it adds up fast!)

21. I like to read on my couch or a comfy chair.

22.  The first fantasy book I read was The City of Ember.

23.  Sometimes I see the movie version of a book first, and it actually entices me to read a book that I might not have been interested in reading.  Two examples are The City of Ember and I Am David.  Saw the movie first, then read the books and LOVED THEM!

24. I love to listen to some books instead of reading them.  It helps me better understand some things.  Harry Potter is a good example of this.  Didn’t read a single one, but heard them all and loved them!  And yes, then I saw the movies. 🙂

25. I like courtroom stories.  John Grisham is a favorite.

26.  I would probably have a hard time doing many of the things I ask my students to do with their books. (Again, don’t tell anyone, ok?)

27. I love to read, but don’t really like to hang out in bookstores.  Is that weird?

28. I have more books at school in my classroom library than I do at home.

29. I like to recommend books to others.

30. I love to read books recommended by other people.  Lately, I’ve found lots of amazing stories from my PLN on Twitter.

31. I need it to be really quiet when I read.  No distractions.

32.  I’m getting better at being able to read in the car and not getting sick.

33. I often read a book because it’s won or was nominated for an award.  Right now I’m working reading the Mark Twain nominees for 2012-2013.

34.  I think read-aloud is one of the most powerful times of the day in my classroom.  No lay-down-and-rest-after-recess kind of reading here.

35. I like to read with my kiddos.  Yes, my ones at home and at school. 🙂

Ok, so not 1oo. Yet.  Eventually. 🙂

What would you put on your list of 100 things?

The Bed Boat

Teachers Write: Day 2: Tuesday Quick Write

Directions for today (ok, well yesterday 🙂 ):

Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.  If you’re just free-writing, it can be a place that you love, or have visited, or a place that frightens you.

Then…When your two minutes are up, stop writing.

Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….

If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:

  • Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
  • Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
  • Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
  • Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)

Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better?  More vivid?  This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!

Wow.  If I thought yesterday was hard, then today was worse.  I tried the exercise.  And then I tried it again because the first go-round was so lousy.  I think the problem was that I picked a place that was too big, too broad, so I had a hard time specifically describing those details.  I do have to admit, though, that there was some really important teacher-learning that happened in that first try: I totally get it now how my kids feel when I tell them to share their words with their partner or with the class.  I thought I understood it, but I don’t really think I got it until it happened to me.  Priceless experience really.

So I tried again, and this time tried to focus in on a smaller–and closer–place that was important to me.  It is an actual place, and it is in my house, so that made it easier.  Well a little bit.

So here it is:

We own a boat.  But it’s not made of wood and nails or fiberglass, either.  It’s big, squishy and white–just the perfect combination of soft and strong, and there is always a breeze blowing overhead.  It’s a bed boat, and while it goes nowhere, it takes my family on magical journeys together.

Sometimes I sail there alone,  just me with my thoughts or a good book to keep me company.  Solitude is welcome.  But more often than not, the boat is filled with other passengers on the journey with me: one who is the captain and two who are smaller (and much louder) versions of myself.  As we sail on together, we might share a laugh, a story, a snuggle or even a snack.  We sense the safety of the boat brings; just being on it is enough.

The big, squishy bed-boat is where we begin and end most days, our safe harbor through the storms of life.  Problems are solved, plans are made and great days are joyously relived.  Tears are shed, questions are answered and the sailors are made stronger just by being there.  Together.  Nothing seems too big to tackle.  The bed-boat is safe, it’s strong and it’s special.

What is your favorite place?  Where do you go that’s special to you?  🙂

Other People’s Kitchens

Teachers Write Day 1:  Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Ok, Day 1.  Like I said, I can do this.  So the directions today were to describe the kitchen of our childhood using as many sense as you can.

So I sat down willing–and hopefully able–to do this.  But the more I thought about it, I realized that some of my most vivid memories from childhood are actually not from my own house.  Not that the ones I have form home are bad ones, they’re just not really there.  So I thought of other people’s kitchens that I spent time in as a child, and my assignment came together:

Bowls.  Small bowls made of wood-looking plastic filled with salad.  And that salad is covered in French dressing.  Yep, one of my clearest memories is related to Catalina-drenched lettuce eaten in Christy B.’s kitchen.  Dark kitchen.  Why?  Because we’d eat that soggy plastic-wooden-bowl-salad as a midnight snack after everyone else was asleep.  No Oreos or ice cream for us.  Health food all the way.  Well, covered in salad dressing.  Take the bowl memory several years forward and about 100 miles up I270 and you’ll be in Sheila’s kitchen.  This time it wasn’t salad, but tomato soup.  Why does tomato soup bring such a warm, vivid memory for me? Because it’s tied to a brand new experience (don’t think I knew tomato soup existed before I ate it in Sheila’s kitchen in her big, yellow house on Mignon Dr.) and a close, loving family.  I ate so many meals in that bright, sunny kitchen over the 5 or 6 years we were friends, every one of them lovely.  I can still picture every square inch of that room today–some 20 years after.  Memories of the smiles, laughs and late-night snacks shared in that space warm my heart. So what about my own kitchen as a child? It was hard to pinpoint just which kitchen to tell about, because we moved around alot.  And even when we were at home, my parents didn’t really cook.  Everything came out of a box.  So maybe that means my childhood kitchen smelled like cardboard? 🙂

What are your childhood “kitchen” memories? Tell me about them. 🙂

Teachers Write!

Yes, yes we do.  And for those of you who were wondering, no, we don’t really have the whole summer “off’, either.  No, we do not have to get up and get dressed and go to school, but we spend many, many hours learning new things that we’ll use in the next school year, planning with our grade level teams, reading and writing, and well, just becoming better teachers so we can help out students even more effectively in the fall.  Ok, but I digress….

So that being said, one of the exciting learning adventures I’m taking part in this summer (along with Mrs. Meihaus and Mrs. Berger–a few Robinson teachers you may know!) is an online writing camp called Teachers Write!

Every day for the next couple of months, there are assignments posted on the Teachers Write blog, and we do them and then post what we write for others to read.  Seems easy, right?

That’s totally what I thought going into this.  I mean, I’ve been a writer for many years.  Not a published author, but a writer nonetheless.  I thought that this writing camp thing would be a piece of cake.  But cake it is not.

Ok, let me explain.  It’s not necessarily the writing part that is hard for me, it’s the sharing part.  Up to this point, I’ve primarily written for myself and my students.  If I share my writing, it’s on my terms, when I want to and how I want to.  Usually its pieces that I’ve chosen to write, and I share them during the revision stages, so that my kiddos can help me fix it up and make it better.  That’s scary in itself, because kids can be really honest, but again, it’s on my terms.

This is a whole different ball game.  This time it’s writing prompts, and the “campers” I’m sharing with are other teachers and–get this–published authors!  Talk about pressure.

But I signed up for it, right?  And what an amazing opportunity for growth as both a writer and a teacher of writing.  So I guess I’m game.  Nothing but good things can come of it, and no one will die in the process.  I just need to put my pride aside and let people teach me something.  Goodness knows I have tons to learn!

Alright.  Here I go.  Taking the plunge.  Jumping in with both feet.  Wearing my floaties and nose plug and hoping not to drown. 🙂

Stay tuned for examples of my “homework.”  I’d love your comments.  Really, I would. 🙂