One of my favorite things about being a traveling author is meeting other writers, teachers, and librarians . Last summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with teacher-writer Ruth Ayres. We had so much in common and became fast friends. Ruth has a new book out called CELEBRATING WRITERS, so I invited her to visit my blog today to tell one of the stories behind the book!
My favorite part of the book Celebrating Writers is the “Closing Thoughts.” I wrote it in ten minutes and then couldn’t wait to read it aloud to someone—anyone. I walked around the school, searching for someone with ears I could steal for a few moments.
I landed on the school secretaries. In a rare course of events, there were no phones ringing and no students hanging on the counter and no doors buzzing, so I asked, “Do you want to hear what I just wrote?”
Like they’d say no.
I read my words straight from my computer screen. I finished and looked up from my screen, expecting high-fives. The book was officially complete! I knew I could depend on the secretaries to whoop it up and make a little noise to celebrate. Instead there was silence. They blinked back a couple of tears.
“You wrote that?” one asked.
I smiled and nodded, “Yeah, just now. The book is officially finished!”
“Girl, you are a writer,” the other said. “That’s powerful.”
There were no high-fives. Instead, I was given the gift of a genuine celebration. It was quiet and simple, and yet it fuels me—even months later—on the hard days of being a writer. When genuine celebrations happen, writers are sustained and encouraged to keep going. This is the heart of the message in Celebrating Writers and the reason I’m grateful I get to keep putting words on the page alongside students.
My husband and I adopted three of our children from the state when they were the ages of four, six, and seven. As they adapt to life as a forever family, our constant conversation has been about making choices and the power we have as individuals to determine the outcome of our lives.
My side of the conversation sounds like this: “You have the power to decide if the day is going to be pleasant. It is completely up to you. You can make choices that lead to a pleasant day or choices that lead to unpleasant consequences. Either way it is up to you.”
The same is true in our classrooms. There are many things we cannot control. We cannot control educational mandates. We cannot control fathers drinking and mothers leaving. We cannot control standardized writing assessments.
But we can choose joy.
This is the heart of celebration. We choose joy about the excess periods in a student’s writing, because a month ago there were none. We choose joy about the three meager lines of writing, because yesterday there were crushed pencil points and tears. We choose joy about the misspellings, because all of the sight words are accurate.
In the face of so much need, we can make a choice to celebrate. There will always be an error, a refusal, an inadequate paragraph. Student writing will never be perfect. We live among the mess. We can choose to wallow in the doom. Or we can choose joy.
I will always choose joy. I suspect you will too.
Ruth’s CELEBRATING WRITERS blog tour continues all week with these stops:
Nov. 13: Reflect and Refine with Cathy Mere (http://reflectandrefine.blogspot.com/)
Nov. 14: Read, Write, Reflect http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/
Nov. 15: Nerdy Book Club http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/
If you ask a question or leave a comment these blogs, you’ll be entered to win a free Stenhouse book at the end of the tour!