This is the first week of Teachers Write, the online summer writing camp I run for teachers & librarians. I started doing this to help people create a writing community, so people who work with young writers could practice their own craft in a safe, supportive place. But the truth is, I learn so much more than I teach in these summers. This is our fourth year, and launch week is always busy – posting lessons, scheduling guest blogs, responding to comments, welcoming everyone. It’s wonderful and joyful, but chaotic, too.
So I’m late in slowing down to really think about the Monday Morning Warm-Up that Jo Knowles shared this week, as she does each Monday. Jo has a gift for inviting us to poke around in our own story worlds in ways that open up doors and shine lights. Her prompt was just what I needed this week because I’m about halfway through drafting a new book that’s real and honest and risky enough to scare me every time I sit down to write.
But sitting down is what I need to do. So today, I sat down and wrote in response to Jo’s prompt – “White Page Day” – is an invitation to list and reflect and pull ideas into a poem.
This is a story about a girl
Whose world was safe
Until it wasn’t.
It’s about sirens that stayed silent,
Police on the school bus,
And killers in the woods.
Good guys and bad guys
And people who don’t fit in categories
And that’s a problem
Because Nora always knew
It’s a story about the moment you realize
That your world is not as safe as you took for granted
With your unlocked doors and tree fort sleepovers.
The moment you realize it’s bigger,
That your good guys are not all as good
As you want them to be,
And your bad guys weren’t always that way.
Hearing their stories
Makes it hard to tell the difference
Between the two.
It’s a story about what we cheer for
And who that makes us.
It’s about small towns and mountains
And the monsters that hide there,
And some that aren’t out in the mountains at all.
It’s about ugly things
Living in beautiful places,
Lines that divide us –
And how two people crossing one
Made all the others go wavy and unsure.
One time an author came to our school –
He had a black t-shirt and sunglasses on his head –
And said the secret to selling lots of books
Was just writing cool stuff.
But things that are cool in a story
Are different when the characters aren’t made of paper.
So this is about looking more closely
At a place you love.
Seeing the beer cans and cigarette butts in the high grass
Loving it anyway,
And putting on work gloves.
It’s about happy endings
And whether you can have one
Even if you finish the story
More unsettled than when you began.
And now it is time for me to get back to that story. Thank you, Jo!! xo