Last night I had the pleasure of being at the University of Memphis Alumni Center with some wonderful SMCTE (Shelby Memphis Council of Teachers of English) members. Librarian goddess Kim Ford of Cypress Middle School invited me to fill in as a guest speaker because the scheduled guest, author Ann Bausum, had broken her clavicle and was unable to make the drive to Memphis. I had hoped to share some information about the value of blogging in the classroom – both as a vehicle for teacher / student writing and as a forum for book discussions. Unfortunately, there was no projection screen in the meeting room, so I was only able to talk about the concept. Still, I hope some teachers will check out Edublogs for their education-related pursuits and perhaps WordPress for their more personal blogs.
I talked for a few minutes about Half-Penny Sparrows, but most of my time was spent on reading aloud the Shitty First Drafts chapter in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird because that book, more than any other, gave me the courage to write. Of course, due to the fact that there were children in the room, I substituted the word “hideous” for “shitty,” but the idea was still the same. We have to give ourselves permission to be something other than perfect or else we are paralyzed. No matter how awful, it’s important to get something – anything – down on paper and THEN work on rewriting, modifying, expanding, editing, etc. To expect fully formed paragraphs to flow effortlessly from our fingertips is a bit much to ask, I’d say. It’s akin to expecting ourselves to sit down at a piano and play only concert-quality pieces. No missed notes, no practicing difficult passages, no stops and starts. How absurd is that? We have to give ourselves permission to play around, mess up, put down on paper way more than we will ever use, chase a few rabbits, and write terrible sentences that no one else will ever see. That is called Effort and Discipline and Perseverance, not Failure.
Thanks, SMCTE, for having me last night. By the way, those were some killer lime bars – yummy!
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