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?

 

 

Confessions

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? 

 

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. 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 4: Write

Like I said last time, I am a reader and a writer.

That being said, I spent many hours writing this summer.  I won’t leave a lengthy explanation of it here, because you’ll hear a ton more about it once we get into Writer’s Workshop this year.  But I feel like it is important to mention.  I posted a writing challenge earlier this month, and am excited to hear if you decided to take it. I believe that writing is something that everyone can do, and that you can get really good at if you just put in the work necessary to make that happen.

But what, you might ask, do I write?  You’re not an author, Mrs. Bearden, you’re a teacher.

I write mainly for myself right now.  I love the quote “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I’d go mad.”  So I write about anything.  And everything.  I write about what I’m thinking, what has happened to me, what I want to do, what I have done.  I write about my kids, my family, my friends, my hubby, myself.  I write stories, poems and lists.  I ask questions and try to find answers.  I ask questions that don’t have answers.  Sometimes I write things in my notebook that I know I will come back to later, maybe to work on again and create into a longer piece.  Many times I write things that I know I will never come back to, but that are important at the time.

But the most important thing?  I write.  I love it and I hope that you will see that as we work together this year.  And if you don’t love it like me, I hope that you’ll at least give it a chance.  If you already do, then I hope you’re inspired to continue your writing journey and that you are challenged in a new and refreshing way.

Now it’s your turn: What have you written this summer?  Do you have a Writer’s Notebook already?  Did you write a letter to someone?  Did you make a list of something?  Tell us about your writing from this summer by commenting on this post.  Can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to!

 

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 3: Read

I am a reader and a writer.  So here’s a peek into some of the reading I did this summer.  Some titles were obviously ones we might read together in class, and some were obviously for me!

1. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur   (Mark Twain Award nominee 2011-2012)

2. The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

3. The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

4. Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta  (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

5. Practical Punctuation by Dan Feigelson

6. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

7. What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N.

8. Other people’s blogs–I’ve found several really interesting ones that I like.  Most were related to sewing or decorating, but I also have started following many from other teachers who use blogs in their classrooms.  I hope to make our blog useful like the ones I’ve discovered.  I also have several friends who post pictures and stories about their families on their blogs and I like those, too.

Now it’s your turn:  What did you read this summer?  Even if it wasn’t a book, I know you read something!  Share some of your favorites here in the comments section. 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 2: Crafts

I like to think I am generally a very creative person.  Over the years, the way I’ve used my creativity has changed, but right now it seems to be focused on sewing.  I think it started right after Allie was born, when I made a big stash of baby wipes for us to use at home:

And then I recovered the rocking chair in her room using two receiving blankets:

This summer I got really adventurous, and decided to try things that didn’t just require sewing straight lines.

So I recovered Allie’s car seat:

     

Made a couple of new bags for Allie’s things:

        

I tried my hand at dresses for the first time the other day after I found a pattern for making a baby outfit from a shirt I already had.  It was great and so fast, but TWICE I made the top too small for her head to go through.  Talk about being bummed!  So that one has no picture because she can’t wear it….

Right now I’m working on curtains for a friend of mine, and I plan on making some more things for around my house.  It’s really a great feeling to hold something in your hand when you’re done and know that all your hard work and creativity made it happen!

Now it’s your turn: What is a hobby that you spent time on this summer?  Do you draw?  Do you build things? Do you dance?  Add your comments and tell us about it.  I’m excited to hear what you’re into!

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 1: Took a vacation!

So you may already know (and if you don’t, believe me you’ll hear WAY more about it!) that my family are HUGE Disney fans.  Well, really Disney World fans, I guess.  We don’t wear Disney or decorate our house with Winnie the Pooh or anything, but we love spending time at the Happiest Place on Earth.  I mean really, Riley is only 4 and has already been there FIVE TIMES!  So, as usual, we set out on a lovely Saturday morning for the really long drive to Florida.  Oh wait, did I say morning?  Does it count as morning if it’s 1 o’clock?  If so, then it was a lovely morning.  Or a lovely night.  Take your pick.

I cannot possibly tell you all about the whole trip in this blog post–we spent four days on the road, two nights at the beach in Clearwater, and 10 days at Disney World altogether–but I can give you the highlights:

1.  We found out that Allie is not yet a seasoned traveler.  Since she was only 6 months old at the time, she had never been on a vacation.  She is definitely a girl who appreciates her schedule, so when that was upset for almost two weeks, she was not a happy camper.  So she really didn’t sleep well the whole time we were gone and was crankier than usual.  Some day she’ll learn. 🙂

2. Somewhere around Macon, Georgia, when it was like 150 degrees outside, the air conditioning on our car went out.  And it wasn’t just freon (the stuff they put in there that makes it make cold air), the whole thing imploded on itself and will cost at least $3000 to fix.  Needless to say, we haven’t repaired it yet.

3. We stayed for two nights in Clearwater Beach, at a place that we found out (after we were all checked in) was a party hotel for young people.  So there was a dance party outside our window from about noon til 2 in the morning.  A very loud dance party.  It’s funny how kids can sleep through all that, though.  Oh yeah, and we had to move rooms because the first one was overtaken by a swarm of gnats.

Hanging out at the pool.  Can you see Allie under that silly hat?  She did NOT like to be outside for very long.

4. While we were in Disney World we stayed at one of our favorite hotels and spent oodles and oodles of time in all the parks.  As you get to know me better you’ll hear all about how much I (we) love Epcot and walking around the World Showcase and eating in the amazing restaurants there.  Did I mention we like to eat?  Some of my very favorite restaurants are in WDW.  We had an AMAZING time.

The view out our balcony window.  That’s a big lagoon with a beach and the pool is to the right.

This is the fancy-dancy stroller where Riley and Allie spent alot of time.    Our awesome friends let us borrow it and it worked out so great.   People thought it looked a little like bunk beds.

This is the first time that we had to buy a ticket for Riley (at Disney you’re free if you’re under 3).  He was very excited to get to put his ticket into the machine and walk through the turnstile by himself.  🙂

5.  I lost my wallet.  Not once, but twice.  But here’s how magical Disney is: I got it back both times and everything was still in it.  I’m not sure that would have even been possible at home, much less in a place as huge and crowded as the Magic Kingdom.  But it happened.  I was really relieved about that.  Both times. 🙂

Don’t be fooled by that cute, smiling face.  That baby and that red wallet pouch added much stress and excitement to our trip!

6. We got a phone call one morning from my father-in-law telling us that we needed to call him as soon as possible.  He told us all about how one of the upstairs toilets had overflowed and run down into the basement ceiling.  Then it broke open and spilled gallons and gallons of water all over the floor and ruined a section of the ceiling down there.   Luckily they found it and stopped the water problem and cleaned up the mess before we got home.  But there’s still a hole in my basement ceiling.

7. Riley turned 4 on our last day there and he had a super great birthday!  He picked his birthday breakfast and originally had planned to have ice cream.  I was pretty excited about joining him in this, but at the last minute he changed his mind and instead had donuts, goldfish (?) and chocolate milk (this is a big treat because he doesn’t normally get to drink it).  That night we stayed in a hotel with a big pirate ship in the pool, which he totally loved.

After all the fun and excitement that happened while we were in Florida, the trip home seemed boring and pretty normal.  We stayed the night in Atlanta and then drove home the next day, happy to be in our own beds again.
Now it’s your turn:  Did you take a vacation this summer?  Or maybe you had a “stay-cation” and just did fun stuff around town with your family or friends.  Tell us about it.  Add comments to this post and share the highlights!