Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Book in Hand and a Reading Tonight

The journey started a few years back when I offered a reflective writing workshop for a group of burned out women ministers and Christian educators--they gathered each month for a restorative morning together. We met again, and again, and began to envision a book of their writings. And now, voila! The first group reading from the book is tonight.

None of us had any idea on that crisp fall day back in 2007 that in 2011 we would be offering readings, reflective writing time, and workshops based on a book of their writings.

Writing begets writing. Meaning grows on the page.

Keep going. Even when you have no idea where you're going. Even when pages--and the hair you're yanking out--litter the floor.

Hang in there. Content yields to form, eventually. And the writing will take you places you never imagined.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'd Rather Be Teaching

“Devote myself to my students, my teaching," writes Joyce Carol Oates in her raw and oh-so-real memoir, A Widow’s Story: A Memoir. "This is something that I can do, that is of value.”

She writes these words in the desperate weeks after her husband's death, when she can barely leave her bed but can’t stand being in her house, or anywhere, alone.

She continues: For writing—being a writer—always seems to the writer to be of dubious value.

Being a writer is in defiance of Darwin’s observation that the more highly specialized a species, the more likelihood of extinction.

Being a writer is like being one of those riskily overbred pedigree dogs—a French bulldog, for instance—poorly suited for survival despite their very special attributes.

Teaching—even the teaching of writing—is altogether different. Teaching is an act of communication, sympathy—a reaching out—a wish to share knowledge, skills; a rapport with others, who are students; a way of allowing others into the solitariness of one’s soul.

Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche—so Chaucer says of his young scholar in The Canterbury Tales. When teachers feel good about teaching, this is how we feel.