Friday, June 15, 2012

#TeachersWrite Week 2: Recap, Writing, and Reflections

To boldly go where my writing has never gone before. That's the theme I'm embracing this summer as I participate in Teachers Write.  

I'm grateful beyond mere words for all Kate Messner and the other authors are doing for myself and teachers--over 1,000--this summer.

I don't know whether or not this experimentation will reach its final destination. I'm just enjoying the mission and the journey and all its challenges.

Here's the recap and links to some of my writing for the week. I value your comments.

Monday: Mini Lesson Monday

Author Sally Wilkins penned "Outlining: When, Why, and How..." I teach outlining. I have outlined many papers and thought I knew a thing or two about outlining. So why have I had so much trouble w/ this task? Simply because I don't yet know where my "planned" YA novel is going. I'm beginning to understand what authors mean about characters doing what they want and getting to know their characters.

Right now my "outline" is a list of vignettes. Kate assured me in the Facebook group that lots of YA novelists write in these segmented ways. I hope it works for me.

Tuesday:  Quick Write from Jeannine Atkins

Jeannine suggested writing a letter to a character, a poem about the character, or writing answers to a series of questions about the character. She then talked about how these efforts could evolve into dialogue and/or conversations.

I struggled with the prompt. By Tuesday I just hadn't written enough to really know much about my main character. I did answer the questions and see how those will be helpful as I continue to write.

Since I have a plot thread and a conflict in mind, I decided to write a letter answering a query the main character makes. Here's the link to the google doc w/ that letter. I'm on controversial ground, even as I struggle with my own thinking about the issue addressed in the letter. I value reader's thoughts.

Compounding my feelings of inadequacy Tuesday was the absence of a response to the letter, until after I wrote about silence as communication on Facebook. I need to learn and remember that silence in the world of publishing communicates something different that I hadn't considered, as several of the writers shared in the Facebook group.

Wednesday: Q&A

This is a time for participants to pose questions about writing. I haven't asked any questions yet. I need to read all the comments before asking a question that someone else might have asked already. The link above will take you to the thread with both questions and answers. Be forewarned: It has 196 posts at this moment!

My Muse Awakens!

Since I was inspired on Wednesday, I wrote a chapter for my planned YA Novel Super Senior. The chapter is tentatively titled "Death Wish," and as with all I'm writing this summer, it's a work in progress.

And that's not all!

Wednesday was very productive for me. I also began working on the other main character in my planned book. Her name is Patina, and you can get to know a little about her by reading "Patina Sneaks Out."  If you read the other items I posted, you'll begin to see the relationship between Tai and Patina.

Thursday: Quick Write from author Pam Bachorz

Pam posed a twist on a prompt I've seen often. First, she asked participants to write about a place they consider home. Then she told us to write "three changes that would make this place utterly altered for you."

WOW! I had an epiphany. I had just finished reading Matched by Allie Condie, so the idea of changes in one's home was fresh in my mind. Now I'm asking myself this: What changes in home happens in the lives of my main characters? I'm still working on my response to Pam's prompt.

Friday: Friday Writing Happy Hour and Friday Feedback with Gae Polisner

I'm like a kid in a candy store come Friday Feedback. Today I posted my first version of "Patina Sneaks Out"and received fabulous critiques from Gae, Jen, and Lena Roy (Madeline L'Engle's granddaughter!). Lena is also the author of Edges and is working on a new book, India Flips.

The version of "Patina Sneaks Out" above is the result of those critiques.

As though getting mentored by these wonderful authors weren't enough, Mike Jung, author of the forthcoming Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities (October 1, 2012) blogged about "worldbuilding." Mike's essay is very accessible to high school students, and I'm looking forward to sharing it.

A world of words and new writing frontiers awaits. Time to boldly go...


  1. Glenda, so thrilled that Teachers Write is feeling rewarding so far! I'm enjoying our connection immensely. It is so true that we take things to heart as writers, like someone's silence, when it has NOTHING to do with us at all. I nearly missed a post on my blog today. Just totally didn't see it. I would be heartbroken if that writer took my silence to mean "not good," when it only meant, "I never saw you sneak in there."

    There are so many wonderful people involved in TW, there is simply no way for us to be everywhere, cheering. Someone will read this comment and wonder why I didn't go to their blog. It's sometimes merely a matter of timing and the luck of the draw. It's that way getting an agent or publisher too. There's skill and perseverance, YES!, but ultimately, often, a stroke of pure timing and luck are needed to get the job done.

    Keep writing. Keep writing.

    - gae

    1. Thanks, Gae. I feel guilty for not reading and commenting on all the other participants' posts, so I can only imagine what the authors must be feeling, especially since so many teachers have jumped into the writing pool! I love reading your comments on Facebook, your blog posts, and I'm really enjoying "The Pull of Gravity," which I'll probably finish this weekend.

    2. GULP! *nerves just shot up ten-fold* ;) (true though. Hope you like it. :))

  2. Glenda, I am enjoying getting to know you this summer and find myself wishing we lived closer to each other so we could meet and talk shop. I think many of us are feeling some growing pains through this process, which is actually a good thing. I'm glad to see you stretching yourself and allowing us to join you in your journey.


    1. Thanks, Micki: I'll be at NCTE in Las Vegas. Will you? If so, we can meet up. :-) The creative writing really is a stretch for me.

  3. I really enjoyed meeting your two main characters in these snippets. You really captured the teenage voice for both of them. I was intrigued with the Death Wish chapter and am interested to read more about Tai and his challenges. Great idea to us Mike Jung's essay with your students. I did not think of this but I agree that this essay is accessible and would be a great resource.

  4. Glenda, I read two of your pieces this week and didn't see places to comment; just saw that I could comment here. I like the conflict-filled places you're exploring, and it will be fascinating to see how these/ or which of these characters and themes develop for you.

    1. Thank you, Jeannine. I actually set the Google docs up to receive comments directly on the docs. I think that's in the upper right corner.

    2. fyi, it may not work for me because I'm technically challenged, but there may be a problem for me and perhaps others because it seems to be a docx not doc, which either my mac or word program doesn't quite "understand."

    3. :-) I know the feeling! I switched from PC to MAC in December and am still trying to figure out the MAC programs. It's a big learning curve.
      I'll take feedback any way I can get it because I know I need the critiques. I'll check the doc settings. But comments here on my blog are always welcome, too.

    4. Under the "insert" tab there's a "comment" option. I thought setting up the docs would make keeping track of critiques easier. Maybe not. I'm trying to learn Scrivener and saw another program that looks easier than Scrivener, which I may try. My dilemma is learning a new program while tackling writing I've never tried before. I worry I'll create some frustration for myself that will get in the way of the creative stuff. Suggestions? I'm open.

    5. No suggestions here -- I'm sure you'll figure it out. You're braver than me!

  5. Glenda - I'm so glad the TeachersWrite community is inspiring you to write and reflect - and thanks for sharing those reflections here, too. Your characters are compelling, and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go for them. I loved Pam's post about "home" too - such an important thing to think about!