Monday, September 23, 2013

Teaching Writing: A Few Resources

Happiness Is The Longing for Repetition. (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

I. Repetition

I cannot imagine teaching writing without writing daily . Janna Malamud Smith writes:
I posit that life is better when you possess a sustaining practice that holds your desire, demands your attention, and requires effort; a plot of ground that gratifies the wish to labor and create—and, by so doing, to rule over an imagined world of your own. (Kindle Locations 66-67). 
How often do young leaners have the time and agency "to rule over an imagined world of your own"?

Steven Pressfield opens The War of Art by describing the rituals of his writing. He writes:
I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I've got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer's Odyssey, translation by T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, which my dear mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae . It's about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I'm getting tired. That's four hours or so. I've hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I've done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there's a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It's three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced ? I don't care. Are they any good? I don't even think about it. All that matters is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance. (Kindle Locations 70-81)
WHAT I KNOW There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance. (Kindle Locations 82-84). 

What rituals do learners make inside of classrooms?  How might these rituals inform/become content we need to learn?

II.  Loss

An odd truth, perhaps, but writing like fine teaching, requires something to have been lost--something beyond our naming and what we think we know at the beginning.  It is in this losing that the work we craft is the work we become. This is not something I think you can learn easily from reading a book about writing.  Rather, it is work that requires more of you and the you you are becoming alongside others.

So before venturing on to the list below, if you are not already writing daily, I hope you will make time to do so.  Perhaps 10 minutes a day to start...

III. A Few Lists...Largely Arbitrary

A Few Books That Inspire Me to Look Closely (Really this list is arbitrary.  Perhaps substitute with those texts you cannot help but put down/pick up/put down/pick up/Turn towards and away... and so on)

Bateson, Mary Catherine. 2010. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. New York: Knopf.
Berger, John & Jean Mohr. 2011. Another Way of Telling. New York: Vintage.
Berry, Wendell. 1996. The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture. Sierra Club Books.
Danticat, Edwidge. 2011. Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. New York: Vintage.
Diaz, Junot. 2012. This is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead.
Dillard, Annie. 2013. Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Revised Edition. New York: Perennial.
Gaiman Neil. 2013. The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Audio CD. New York: William Morrow. (I could listen to hime= read for weeks and weeks.)
Heaney, Seamus. 1997. The Spirit Level: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
Heaney, Seamus. 2011. Human Chain: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
hooks, bell. 1997. Bone Black: Memoirs of a Girlhood. New York: Holt.
Morrison, Toni. 2008. What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction. University Press of Mississippi.
Solnit, Rebecca. 2010. A Field Guide To Getting Lost. New York: Penguin.

A Few Books To Strengthen Your Own Art as Writer

King, Stephen. 2000. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner.
Lamott, Anne. 2007. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books.
Pressfield, Steven. 2011. The War of Art. New York: Black Irish Entertainment LLC.

A Few Books To Complicate Your Teaching Practices

Dyson, Anne Haas. 1993. Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write in Urban Primary Schools.New York: Teachers College Press.
Dyson, Anne Haas. 1997. Writing Superheroes: Contemporary Childhood, Popular Culture, and Classroom Literacy.New York: Teachers College Press.
****Dyson, Anne Haas.2013. ReWRITING the Basics: literacy Learning in Children's Cultures. New York: Teachers College Press.
Graves, Donald. 2003. Writing: Teachers and Children at Work –Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Heard, Georgia and McDonough. 2009. A Place of Wonder. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

****Reading now.

Smith, Janna Malamud. 2012. An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery. Berkeley, CA Counterpoint.

1 comment:

  1. More inspiring recommendations.

    I am tired of academic writing, and have been trying to find time for more creative writing.