Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More From A Master - Slice 5 of 31


              Slice number 5 of 31!  This is the very fun Slice of Life Writing Challenge where we write every day and link together on theTwo Writing Teachers Blog of Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz. 

                   Tweet at #slice2013

Jennifer M. at I Hablo Esplanglish, a wonderful teacher of English language learners with loads of stories to tell, including a loving husband, also wrote lately about another important man in her life, Ralph Fletcher!  Jennifer attended the Dublin Literacy Conference a couple of weeks ago, and right before that I attended the Colorado Chapter of the International Reading Association here in Denver.  I've written one post, about my time with Tony Stead.  This time, briefly, I want to share some of my notes from my experience with Ralph Fletcher, adding to what Jennifer wrote.  Evidently we received different presentations.  She got to write a poem and in my presentation, Ralph talked about keeping writers notebooks.  I think both might be inspiring to all of us who are entering the cooling off period of the challenge.  It's Tuesday, we're thinking, and oh my, there are 26 days to go!


            There are many books I love that have helped me teach students about keeping a notebook or writing, but some of my favorite are Fletcher's.  If you don't know them, try to find at least one.  He has lately revised an old favorite, What A Writer Needs that Stacey referred to in their slice number two, with a giveaway of this edition. A recent one that I've used and shared often is Mentor Author, Mentor Texts, filled with short pieces of every genre imaginable.  I used Marshfield Dreams, one of his memoirs, often as a mentor text, and once as a read aloud.  A favorite is Moving Day, a story in poems about moving.  And a final favorite, Breathing In Breathing Out: Keeping A Writers Notebook.  There are many more.
              Ralph spoke of the importance of his thinking changes in this revision, that new ideas come now from technology, that there is more going on with visual inspiration in classes, too.  He spoke of one important habit of an effective writer, that "they react".  I wonder if we want to write something down because we are reacting to it, and writing is part of that reaction?     He added that a writer's notebook is "where people stand in front of a mirror and try something."  Think about that for a little while!
               Another good piece of advice, according to Ralph, is that "keeping a writers notebook helps one keep in touch with all the senses--and your heart"!  His book, Twilight Comes Twice, comes from his little boy asking the question: "What is twilight, Dad?"  He noted it and came back to it later, then wrote about it.  Ralph talked a little about memoir, reminding everyone that one needs to capture at least tidbits of info about an event, and further quoted Paul McCartney, who said:  You can't re-heat a soufflé."  
                Finally, a quote I shared right after I attended the conference:  "Writers are people who write interesting stories from their ordinary lives."
        
      
I've kept notebooks/journals/sketchbooks for a long while, with or without students.  Here are two pictures of my poetry journal where lots of favorite poems & lessons are entered, some writing of my own too, and my writers notebook filled with mentor text pieces of poetry and prose, and lessons large and small.


I love these journals, and also have many computer files on my laptop.  They are important to my writing, but I do wonder sometimes how many people will bother to scroll through file # 34, compared to one of these journals?  Is that a consideration for another post?  Ralph Fletcher is an inspiration for our personal writing and for attempting to inspire and to instill passion in our students.  I'm so happy to have seen him!

             
              

40 comments:

  1. Linda,
    I was able to see him at the Dublin Literacy Conference as well. He so inspired me with his talk about boy writers. He is definitely a man to admire and learn from on the topic of writing as well as life.
    I feel so lucky! Thanks for sharing your thinking about writer's notebooks. I need to get better at keeping notes on the small stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amy. The Dublin Conference sounds like a great day!

      Delete
  2. I wonder too about files on the computer vs handwritten journals and notebooks. I have a precious piece of writing in my mother's handwriting that she tucked away in a spiral notebook before she died, knowing that we'd find it. How much more it means to me in her own handwriting than if she'd kept it digitally! Just a thought to ponder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have many files now, especially because of the blog, but other pieces too. They probably will not stay.

      Delete
  3. I always want to do a better job with keeping up my journal after hearing Ralph speak. He's so inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed. It would be fun to take a workshop with him, but I don't think that happens anymore.

      Delete
  4. I love Ralph too. I found him as I got involved in the Hudson Valley Writing Project and like you I have a row of writer's notebooks a bit dusty now.
    But honestly, as I read through your post Linda, I realize that I don't keep a notebook anymore. I don't write with a pen. It's must me and my blog. I do agree that the digital world has made me love revision but I don't keep a notebook and I'm not sure how I feel about that...
    I'm thinking,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I'm still working with small groups of students, & perhaps that's the motivation. I want them to see what I do, & I don't want to bring in a computer. I also still sit and mess around on a page, but then finally transfer a 'draft' to a computer file. Things certainly are changing Bonnie.

      Delete
  5. More information to toss and turn in my mind. I must admit I am not the best notebook keeper. I do have a small notebook pad I carry in my purse so I can jot something to remember or a later writing piece. Too often my phone is my journal through the pictures to help me remember, but then the pictures are deleted. Writing changes with technology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Elsie, it is. And what are we to do with all those beautiful blank journals? Interesting to ponder in our 'new' days! Thank you!

      Delete
  6. I feel like you are sharing a secret with me, letting me see your notebooks. :)
    Ruth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps I should share a little more, Ruth. I love keeping them, but much of the writing is also in computer files now. Thanks!

      Delete
    2. I appreciate that you show "behind the scenes." Thank you. How do you make the choices, what goes in the journal, what in files? Do you sometimes print out and bind some files to be able to look at them?

      Delete
    3. Hi Terje, the writing I do for my blog is in the computer files, because I have a record on the blog of that writing. My experimenting, draft writing that I do for fun and with students in lessons is in these notebooks. I also add in mentor text examples, other ephemera, and lesson plans in the notebooks & take them with me when I teach. I keep other files for special writing that I like that people like you share, & sometimes I will handwrite a short piece into the notebooks too. That's about it, not exactly organized, but somewhat. Thanks for asking!

      Delete
    4. Thank you. I have looked at my journals and none of them have neat and finished writing in them, mostly ideas and drafts. I have some of my blog entries as word documents, but many of them are just as blog posts. Reading your response made me think that I should back up my slices in case something happens to the blog (knock on wood).

      Delete
    5. I know, I worry about that too, but I do have files of the pieces, just not very organized. I wonder if we should write Google to see if they back up the blogs? (I really would be great to have a share session!)

      Delete
  7. I love that quote "Writers are people who write interesting stories from their ordinary lives." I saw Fletcher speak last spring in my state. It was inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The quote reminds me that it was a challenge to persuade my students that they had interesting things to say. Thanks Dana.

      Delete
  8. I think there's something very comforting in the tangible notebook, the kind with real pages and a cover, the kind in which to tape things and scribble in many diffrent types of ink and color. I love my notebooks! No matter how much online writing I do, my writer's notebooks are extra special. Thanks for giving us a peek at yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I love my notebooks too, Tara. Thanks!

      Delete
  9. I'm with RUth. I love peeking into your notebook :) I have several of the books you mentioned and love using them. I have to get out more so I can see some of these people in person!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb, it's the first conference like that in a while. As you saw from previous posts, I was so excited, & it did not disappoint!

      Delete
  10. I have quite a few of Fletcher's books, especially the small pocket size ones--used many a time as lesson plans. I will not part with them. Thanks for sharing your journal. I love the poem "Allow." It's really easier to allow than fight what will come. This is where the lessons are and life becomes lived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered if someone would enlarge to see that poem. Isn't it lovely? I'm glad you liked it, Tam.

      Delete
  11. Ralph Fletcher has such a quiet demeanor and yet inspires in such big ways. I have met him several times and each time I am flustered. I turn into a bumbling fan-girl idiot.

    I liked seeing your notebooks, especially with mentor texts taped inside. I find I've been doing LOTS of that lately with my Quick Write club.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it odd to be bumbling like that; I know what you mean. I imagine you know as much as he does because you're right there teaching, Christy. We could all sit to have a wonderful conversation if only there was ever time!

      Delete
  12. Love all the info on notebooks and books by Fletcher. I haven't read much of his work - will have to check theze others out for sure.
    Love the look at your notebook.
    We keep writer's notebooks in my class but we don't use them as much as we should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least try one of them, Beverley, they really are helpful with ideas and philosophy.

      Delete
  13. I really appreciate this post. It is just now hitting me that a writer's notebook is different than my morning journal. I journal daily, but I don't lug that thing around me all the time. I keep a little tablet in my purse. I use endless clipboards and post-its and my laptop at school. Yikes! Why not consolidate - at least the school stuff? One notebook that keeps my "writing" ideas? Thank you for this post! Also, love your expression - "the cooling off period of the challenge"...exhilaration is waning, reality setting in?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maureen. I hope you do find one special book. I find it helpful to have the lessons there, & I might change them anyway, but the 'bones' are there. As for the 'cooling off', I just find that returning to work is like much more added to the time spent. We were lucky to have the 1st be on a Friday, then the weekend. Now the reality, & I have company coming this weekend! I already wonder how I'll manage.

      Delete
  14. I have many of Ralph Fletcher's books. He writes so real and honest and in a way that I can relate to. He has started a blog that I follow. http://livethewritinglife.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret, thank you! I didn't know. It's interesting that I often forget to check the more well-known people to see if they're blogging. This I know will be fun. And yes, the books are terrific.

      Delete
  15. I really like the poem...yes, I enlarged it too! It's fun to be able to peek inside your notebook and see how another writer puts their words on the page. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Robin-so glad you liked the poem, too. I wonder if we could get others to share? I love seeing inside notebooks too.

      Delete
  16. Wow Linda, I'm so flattered to be mentioned with such high regard in your post! Thank you so much for the kind words and links to my posts! It was really fun to read about your presentation from Ralph Fletcher; it sounds great. (Don't you wish we could have both heard both presentations?) Writer's notebooks are so much fun! Mine is mostly digital on Evernote now, but there's still something to be said for the feel of leather and paper in my hands, too. I didn't do very well getting my students to use them authentically this year, so I'd love to know more about using them in class. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome Jennifer. I love all your posts, & enjoyed linking up! Perhaps I'll try to share some things that have worked for me in the past. Thanks for the idea!

      Delete
  17. This was a great idea. Ralph Fletcher is a piece of writing inspiration just in presence alone. What a great experience. I also love all the notebook photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Betsy. It was fun to write about him. I so enjoy his work.

      Delete
  18. He sounds like an inspiring writer - perhaps the next choice to read for a craft book?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some books to look at that fit adults better than what I shared, except maybe What A Writer Needs. The memoirs are really good! Thanks, Katie!

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!