Teachers Write 8.4.17 A Friday Farewell

It’s hard to believe that our four weeks of writing together are winding down already, but please know that even though we’re not blogging every day, this community doesn’t go away when it’s time to sharpen pencils again. Being a teacher-writer isn’t a one-time professional development goal, so we hope your writing habit lasts far beyond September. Gae has one more Friday Feedback for you today. And Gae, Jo, Jennifer, and I – and most of your guest authors – are always around on social media. We’ll keep cheering for you (and your students!) throughout the school year.

Today’s writing prompt is one that I’ve included before, but I can’t say it any better for this year’s group of brave writers, so I’m sharing it once more…

You all showed up here in early July – some of you veterans, some of you brand new to Teachers Write and even new to the idea of putting words on paper and sharing them. It’s been an amazing summer of learning and writing. You’ve written bravely and shared with joy and fear and courage and all the other emotions that go along with opening up a bit of yourself to friends and strangers who are being brave, too. You’ve made me smile and laugh and cry sometimes, too, in all the best ways, and I am so proud of you.

So here’s one last assignment…

(You are being granted special time-travel abilities for this one.)

Write a letter to yourself of 4 weeks ago.  It will be sent back through time and delivered to you on July 9th, 2017…right before you begin Teachers Write.  What advice would you give yourself?  What can you tell yourself about what the experience will be like and how it might change your writing or teaching?

Here’s the letter I wrote to my back-in-time self after our first summer of Teachers Write, back in 2012…

Dear Kate,

Today, you are going to notice some of your Twitter teacher-friends talking about their goals to write this summer, and it will occur to you that it might be fun to set up a virtual writing camp.  Go ahead and do it, even though it’s not going to go the way you’re imagining.  You’re probably picturing a dozen people, right? Maybe twenty? Multiply that by 100 and you’ll be a little closer. It’ll freak you out at first when you see all those people signing up, but don’t worry — they are amazing people who will be happy to be here and patient with your summer schedule. Besides, tons of generous and talented authors are going to show up to pitch in. This probably doesn’t surprise you, does it? The children’s and YA writer community is amazing like that.

What will surprise you is just how much you are moved when you sit down to read the comments every day. These teachers and librarians will be so smart, so brave. They will try new things. Some will be afraid at first, but they will be so good to one another, so supportive, that new voices will emerge every week.  And these voices will be full of passion and beauty, humor and joy and poignancy.  They will be amazing, and they will make you cry sometimes, in the best possible way.

So go on… Write that introductory blog post, even though you’re biting off way more than you know. It will be worth every second, and when August comes, you will not be ready to let go. Not even close.

Warmly,   Kate

Your turn now…  Put today’s date on the paper, and then write your message to be sent to yourself, back through time. We’d love it if you’d all share this one in the comments.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer and have an amazing school year with your student writers. Be sure to tell them about your writing this summer. They’ll be so proud of you.

xo

~Kate

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29 Comments

  1. Posted August 4, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    To all the hosts at Teachers Write – THANK YOU!!!!!

    Dear Meg,
    I know you are excited for this year at Teachers Write. I know you think you will be all in this year. And…you will be right! You will do it! You will posted almost every single day (two days off on a vacation with spotty signal, bravo!) and gave it your all. After a string of letdowns in life for you, Teachers Write will be your shining star. Now, this doesn’t mean you will write your best writing every day. You won’t even meet daily goals of getting enough words on the paper but you show up every day. You will start to dream of a life where you can write all day and make this your work. (Don’t forget the inspiration you get from your students, and your ridiculous cost of living in Boston. You can’t quit your day job on that day it feels like you should.) You will fall in love with writing all over again. It’s been awhile so soak it in. You might not be prepared for how connected you feel to the other writers. You will check your posts and hope you hear from the familiar voices you get to know every day. Often, you will feel like you still don’t belong in this group and you won’t know exactly what to say when you read their posts. Some mornings you will take a deep breath before you write and cross your fingers that you can make it happen again. Be patient, be kind, and breathe through it. You got this,

    <3
    Meg

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Oh, Megan, I got teary-eyed reading this. It is absolutely beautiful. You have been one of the shining stars, not only writing like an author, but commenting on mine and others’ work like a pro. I look forward to the day when I can buy your book! Many blessings!

      • Posted August 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Denise, thank you for all your support through this process. It has been a joy to read your writing and I look forward to next year!

  2. Posted August 4, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Dear Meg,  

      Last year you decided to join Teachers Write for the four weeks.  What’s interesting is last year was the first time I joined the group. I wrote a bunch of posts, but I never published them on my blog.  I did respond with comments on the Teachers Write blog.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed since I joined Book Love Foundation Book Club, and the Unstoppable Writing Teacher book club on Facebook.  In addition, I am trying to read at least 40 books for #book challenge.  I am also babysitting my daughter’s dog.

    I will commit and jump in and follow the blog and write a response each day.

    Good luck!

  3. Annie
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you to everyone! These four weeks were amazing, I will definitely miss this.

    Dear Annie,

    I am so proud of you for being courageous and signing up for Teachers Write. You are going to adore the four weeks of writing ahead. Don’t be scared, take the chances. You should wake up a little earlier each day for a few more minutes of morning writing time. (You already know how minimal your quiet time will be. (Wink, wink). Write freely, don’t be afraid to open yourself up to what you really want to write. This experience will change you as a writer and as a teacher. There are going to be days when you are terrified to share your writing. I want you to know that you should not be. This community of teachers/writers will help you find the best approaches to writing. Enjoy every day, write as much as you can, and don’t be afraid. Oh, brace yourself you are going to be amazed when you read others writing, there are some pretty amazing writers in this community.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer and never stop writing!

    Love,
    You

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Annie,
      I totally agree with the brace yourself for amazing writers. I am floored by the talent in this group. Good luck in your school year!

  4. Jen Howe
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Dear Jen,
    I know you are excited about Teachers Write beginning tomorrow. I also know you’ve enjoyed reading all posts in years past, but feel disappointed that you haven’t participated regularly. I know you have doubts about not having a work in progress, having lots of fun activities with the kids planned, and not being able to participate as much as you’d like this year either.

    Don’t worry. Believe me, when you get to August 4, you will have posted every day. (If you didn’t quite have time to do the prompt, you at least thanked the author and commented on how you think your students might respond). You will also have posted to Friday Feedback TWICE, and some really great ideas have actually begun shaping in your head that you plan to continue drafting, researching and revising.

    Hang in there and keep writing!

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Wow, Jen, congratulations! You did it–posted every day. I bet you didn’t expect that would happen when you started. Congratulations!

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jen!
      I’ve loved reading your posts (and seeing another Howe!!) everyday here on Teachers Write. Congrats on your accomplishments this summer! Have a great year!

  5. Posted August 4, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Wow! This has been such a great month for me, thanks to all the wonderful participants (hosts and participating teachers) here at Teacher’s Write. I look forward to doing this again next time!

    Dear Andrea,

    You’re feeling excited to participate in Teacher’s Write this summer, and there’s a lot you want to accomplish. Even though revising your novel can be discouraging and challenging at times, Teacher’s Write is going to inspire you to keep working. It’s going to get you “unstuck” and you’ll get your enthusiasm back. You’re going to discover some new ideas along the way, too and you’ll remember how to stretch your writing brain and take some risks. It’s so much fun, thinking and learning from the other teachers who participate. You’ll also get feedback from Josh Funk on one of your picture book beginnings. How cool is that?

    Go for it. You’re going to love it!

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Josh Funk was amazing!! I was telling a friend about this group today and she couldn’t believe we were getting all this feedback. See you next year Andrea!!

      • Andrea Mack
        Posted August 7, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        Definitely!

  6. MAUREEN MORRISON
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Dear Maureen,
    Coffee will taste even better now that you have bravely joined Teachers Write. You will still sleep in, but once you wake up, checking the writing prompt of the day will become more important than email or scrolling through Facebook. You will learn so much about your characters that you will miss them when you aren’t writing with them. Oh, and speaking of missing people, you might feel a little sad when it ends on August 4.
    Keep writing bravely! I’m so proud of us!

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Maureen-
      YES to all of this, “You will still sleep in, but once you wake up, checking the writing prompt of the day will become more important than email or scrolling through Facebook. You will learn so much about your characters that you will miss them when you aren’t writing with them.”

      See you next year!

  7. Diana Murrell
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much to everyone! This was an amazing experience. I appreciate your gifts of time and creativity that make this so inspiring!

    Dear Diana,

    You signed up for Teachers Write! Awesome! You will be so glad you did! This year I know you want to try and post every day and that is a terrific goal! It will help you make writing a habit that you do every day (and that your family helps you do too). You will discover the incredible generosity of time and creativity that exists in this amazing community. You will use the internet as it was best intended: to connect and communicate, to share. You have discovered something really special in Teachers Write. Enjoy the journey!

  8. Kay Berry
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for everything! I have really appreciated all the feedback, and wonderful community of teachers. I learned a great deal, and hope to participate next year!

    Dear Kay,

    I know that you are a bit apprehensive about signing up for your first TeachersWrite, but you have to push yourself! You are getting older, and time is not your friend. As a teacher, you want to be a better example, call yourself a writer because you call your students writers, authors, and you want to be one yourself. You have these stories in your head, you have even put some of them in a notebook with character descriptions, and outlines, but what is stopping you? Maybe this summer you can make new goals, be inspired, and do it! Good luck!

  9. Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    4 August 2017

    Dear July Denise,
    You will be home in Bahrain this summer with no distractions. Many friends are traveling. Your husband works full-time, and you will be able to do whatever it is you want.  This will be my first summer like this in, oh, I don’t know, maybe like forever.

    When you realized you would have a quiet summer, you chose to make Teachers Write a priority, something you have not been able to do ever before since it started in 2008, though you tried at times.

    I know you have a long list of additional things you want to do to go along with TW: Read a lot — the Bible (to keep your sanity in the trump era), 4 professional books, and 12 fiction books to inspire you as you go back to teach grade 5. You need to get ready for a new school year, and you want to declutter one cupboard or drawer each day, exercise, cook and bake. That’s a lot to do, so don’t be afraid to let some of these other things wait until August. You’re lucky, you’ll still have a few weeks after Teachers Write to finish the decluttering, to continue reading through your book pile, and still get ready for the new year of school.

    Don’t be afraid to be an author in July and enjoy it.. The time will go so fast. You won’t have time to follow all the posts, at least not all the comments, but relax. Remember Kate said you can do as much or as little as you choose.

    This year you decided you want to write a MG novel while you work on the exercises, but it will prove harder than you now think. Just enjoy the process. At least your MG novel will be much further along in August than it is now. (Since you don’t even have an idea, a character or a plot for it yet.)

    You will get discouraged along the way. (Like 40,000 words, no chance! Plot, perspective and point of view? What are those?) You’ll gain a lot more respect for the authors whose work you love to read, and all the teachers you are working with in Teachers Write. You will even have more respect for the fifth graders last year who wrote their own novels. It’s good to do what you ask your students to do, and you didn’t do that last November when your students wrote. This November you can keep writing Bailey’s story. Also, you will discover some healing coming for you, as you write about Bailey and Lisa and Debra. It just might be true that you can only write who you are.

    With love and forgiveness,

    August Denise

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      I mean 2012–I just realized I wrote TW started in 2008. I think I just guessed randomly, then forgot to look it up until I posted. 🙂

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Denise,
      Congrats to you for being such a positive, consistent presence on Teachers Write this year. You captured so much, so beautifully here. I especially loved this, “Don’t be afraid to be an author in July and enjoy it.” You ARE an author Denise. Can’t wait to hear how Bailey and Lisa and Debra are doing next summer. 🙂 Good luck this school year!

  10. Barb Jaindl
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Dear Barb,

    Some decisions, to prepare a salad or tuna fish for lunch, are easy. Some are more difficult — particularly if they connect to a desire you’ve had since you were a kid who loved to read and write. Your unexpected ER visit, after falling down the stairs the night before Teachers Write started, almost precipitated another hold on that attempt to pursue a dream.

    You had set aside the writing you had started when you were pregnant for the first time. So the years passed as you raised your kids and kept a day job you loved connecting young readers and their teachers and parents to books. This week you pulled those pieces out and recognized a different writer. You recently arrived on the other side of the fog of losing a spouse at a young age. All of these life experiences may yet become the hearty base for a good story that lasts longer than one meal.

    You now know how even a single writing prompt in one morning gave you insight into a new approach or stronger perspective. Now you can more easily sift through the writing that helps you work through ideas and the writing that contains the base for a finished piece to share with a wider audience. One of the greatest gifts you gave yourself was to share this online writing experience with others who love words and shared their advice so genuinely and freely. The power of words have been the strongest constant in your life, so now’s the time to push through the distractions and keep writing.
    Keep Growing,
    Barb

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Barb, this is powerful. Your ER visit couldn’t stop you, and nothing will in the future. Your powerful story of loss, raising children, a story that’s persists in waiting to be told will keep you writing. Blessings.

    • Posted August 4, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Barb,
      Wow.You have amazing strength. Keep writing and growing. Looking forward to reading your stories next summer.

  11. Susan Ahearn-Pierce
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    To Kate and all the writer-hosts and participants at Teachers Write,

    I have only done a little writing, but I have been reading and absorbing all of the great writing advice. I have also passed on information about your books to my former school librarian colleagues, urging them to take a look and make some purchases for their media centers.

    Thanks for providing such a great forum for teacher/writers!

  12. Barb Jaindl
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    But first off to school to see if that book order with all the great books by awesome authors has arrived. I ordered second copies of some because I know otherwise the Holds list will be long!

  13. Carol R Owen
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Dear Kate and all of you other wonderful authors,
    Thank you for these four wonderful weeks. Even though they were occurring during a tremendous trial in my life, I searched every morning for the newest prompt or message, and Teachers Write became my rock of salvation in all the turmoil. I one read somewhere that when life overwhelms you have that one place where you can go where there is no turmoil, where you can just sit and regroup. Like a bed made up nice despite the rest of the house being a wreck. That’s what Teachers Write became for me this summer – that place where I could go and regroup, collect my thoughts, write them down, and then move on. Thank you.

    Dear Carol,
    You may think that you have no time to do the writing prompts presented in Teachers Write this year, but do them! They will make you grow as a writer more than you have since the year you participated in the Vermont National Writing Conference. Your writing this year will help you through the difficult times of Arthur’s treatments, and help you put voice to your feelings and frustrations, your pain and heartache as you watch your dear husband endure this affliction. So, push through.

    Use those times in the waiting room, even though you’ll just have to tap out what you can on your cell phone, but mostly, open your eyes and watch all that’s going on around you. Take it all in – the demeanor of the nurses and doctors, and other patients, the stories of the other patients, the distances traveled, the hope claimed, the frustrations and pains. Let this experience be the springboard to guide your MC in your WIP, because her story needs to be heard. So take this time and use it.
    Now keep it going!
    Carol

  14. Posted August 5, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Dear Kate, Jo, Gae and Jennifer,

    Thank you for another wonderful TW camp, for sharing so many wonderful tips and ideas with us. You are an inspiration!

    Warmly,
    Tanja

    And here my letter to myself:)

    Dear Tanja,

    It’s this time of summer, TW is about to begin and just like in past years, you are excited, yet a bit anxious and nervous about the start. Once again, you don’t have a WIP. You made serval attempts to keep working on a story during the school year but not much came out of it – and that’s ok. Really! You don’t need a WIP to participate in TW. Just read all the wonderful posts, meet returning and new author mentors and fellow TW campers, give the assignments a try and you’ll see, ideas for new stories will materialize. You know they always do and that is so much fun when it happens, seeing how just putting a few words down leads to new thoughts, new ideas, and in no time a new story begins to take shape. You don’t have to share everything you write on the various blogs but try to step outside of your comfort zone at least a few times and share a snippet of your writing. Experience what all writers experience when they share their work: first some anxiety and then a sense of accomplishment and joy when you hear back from others who have read it.
    Further, you’ll once again discover many new wonderful stories to enjoy and share with your students. Have your journal ready to take notes!

    Happy summer reading and writing 🙂

  15. Posted August 5, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    To all the wonderful people who made this possible thank you.

    Dear Sandra,
    You are going to enjoy this year of Teachers Write. You will be participating from an artist retreat where you will get to spend three weeks just writing. You will start each morning with Teachers Write. This will motivate you daily. Oh, you know how you almost didn’t apply for the residency because you have to participate in two readings for the community? Don’t worry. Gae’s editor is going to be one of the guests and she is going to comment on your opening to your work. The suggestions she gives you will make it sing. When you do your reading for those supporters of the arts you will be repeatedly asked how much you have gotten written and to let the Hermitage Artist Retreat know when it is published so they can purchase a copy. This will motivate you to continue to write daily. Not only that but you will be motivated to check in on those teachers at school you encouraged to begin writing and find out that they have been writing this summer. You are prepared to begin another school year motivate to inspire students and teachers to write. So don’t hesitate. You’ve got this and you will have so much fun and learn so much from the best writers in the world, other teachers.
    Keep Writing,
    Sandra

  16. Dayna Collings
    Posted August 5, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Dear Dayna,

    You are feeling so thankful that you were reading Twitter posts in June when you saw Kate Messner post about Teachers Write. Your heart jumped when you thought about how amazing it would be to learn from authors you have so much respect for. You also felt relieved knowing that it was online and you wouldn’t have to talk, share ideas or present in front of a roomful of people but merely from the safety of your own office chair.

    The Teachers Write Workshop will motivate you to blow the dust off of those old manuscripts that were set-aside during extremely busy school years. You will get to ask those questions you have been saving for the right opportunity to come along. The amazing guest authors will inspire you, support and encourage you. You will also receive fantastic feedback from authors who have given their time and advice so freely.

    Honestly, you would be an idiot for not participating in this workshop. Mark your calendar and be ready to go “all in” on July 10th, you won’t regret it!

    Warmly,
    Dayna

    P.S. Please do not forget to thank Kate, Gae, Jo and all of the fabulous guest authors for so graciously giving their time.

  17. Stephanie S
    Posted August 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    (A day late, but here’s my letter…)

    Dear Stephanie,

    You are about to embark on a scary journey – sharing your writing for the first time with the world. Sure you’ve shared it to a few people, but now you will share small paragraphs for anyone on the internet to see.

    I know, it seems scary. You’re wondering if people will listen to what you have to say. You are wondering how supportive people will be. You are wondering if what you have to those jumbled letters on paper are even worth sharing.

    Let me assure you that yes, people do want to hear what you have to say. And this group is the perfect group to begin sharing with, as they are just as scared as you. And because it’s a community of educators, they understand that people learn by making mistakes. And yes, people are curious how you make jumbled letters into something worth reading.

    You may not participate in all the prompts. You may not even get far in your own story during this time frame. But I will promise you that at the end, you will feel as though you made some progress and learned something, and yes, you will want to do it again.

    You will fall even more in love with writing and will start planning on how to share what you’ve read and learned from the various authors, both with the students at your school as well as the teachers.

    So get ready … and WRITE!

    Stephanie

    PS: A special shout out at the end to Kate, Gae, Jo, Jenn, guest authors, and participants for making my first time not so scary of an experience.

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