Slice of Life Tuesday: Solitude and Sadness

Today after I drove my friend, Ruth to the airport, "Claire de Lune" came on the radio. I've always found this piece by Debussy to be sweetly melancholy, and today it was the perfect music for my mood.

Now I sit in my house alone with just my own thoughts and notebook for company. I've looked forward to this solitude. The promise of this time got me through the last hectic weeks of work before summer vacation, of tying up the loose ends of the school year. But now that I have what I wanted, I wish my friend had not left.

Just a week ago at this time I was in Sea Ranch on the Northern California coast in a funky rental house on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Two of my writer friends shared this house with me. Down the road, two other houses, both filled with other friends. Nine women who had come together for our annual writer retreat. That whole week the presence of my friends surrounded my writing with love.

I remember the first time I went to camp when I was 10. I was nervous and apprehensive the whole long drive up to the campgrounds. I didn't know anyone and wasn't sure what to expect. Then it turned out to be such a glorious experience. When my parents came to pick me up after the week was over, I cried all the way home in the car. Every time I leave Sea Ranch, I think of that long-ago car ride.

Today I don't feel quite as bereft as that 10-year-old girl.  Just a little sad.  I guess it's to be expected, coming down from the exuberance of this year's experience of what my sister calls Poetry Camp. As all of us have flown off to our private corners, I am grateful for the flurry of texting, photos and emails we've sent each other. We find it hard to let go sometimes.

I know we will stay in touch over the year, but it's not the same as sitting around the table laughing and eating, writing together, or listening to each other read new work. Nothing can replace that shared community.  I'll have to wait until next June for that.






Sea Ranch, June 2016: A room with a view and starting a book campaign

For the past few years, I've made an annual trek to the northern California coast to Sea Ranch. This is a rather other-worldly place. Made up of a community of cedar-sided houses perched on the edge of the Pacific, there is little to do here. In June, it's windy and chilly. The nearest town is tiny Gualala, 12 miles up the road.

So what's the draw? For me, it's the chance to be with an amazing group of women I met in 2011 at the AROHO retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Another ranch, another place where there was nothing to do except eat, read, write, talk and experience the beauty of nature.

This year at Sea Ranch my bedroom is in the library of one of the houses we've rented. As I type this, I sit surrounded by books. Out my window, the ocean roars, gulls riding the wind currents. This is a glorious, wild place to begin my summer vacation.


Every year when I come to Sea Ranch, I set myself writing goals, just as I would expect of my own students. This blog post is the beginning of my first goal for 2016: begin a book campaign.

One of the wonderful women in my mighty band of writers here is Ruth Thompson who runs Saddle Road Press out of Hilo, Hawaii. I am honored that Saddle Road will be publishing my first full-length book of poetry in December.

Creating a book of poetry can be a long, painstaking process. I published my chapbook, In the Poem an Ocean (Big Table Publishing) in December of 2010. For the last six years, I've been slowly and steadily building a new collection of poems. And now my completed manuscript is in the hands of my trusty publisher.

Well, at least the first draft is in her hands! I know I have many revisions to go through before the book is ready to go out into the world. All writers can expect that. We may not like it, but we expect it. It's what writers do.

What many people don't know is the other work that goes into getting a book into people's hands, especially a book of poetry from a small press. And that's a marketing campaign. Most of my non-writer friends are surprised when I tell them that I will be responsible for marketing my book. But it's true. Being a poet and teacher, I never thought I'd have to add PR representative to my resumé. Now I am.

So in the next six months, I'm off on a new adventure of revision, choosing a cover -- and marketing. I know I'm not alone in this. I'm lucky to have writer friends who have given me great advice already. But I'm always looking for more ideas.

I'd love to hear from others, not just writers, who have have been on the same path. I know artists, photographs or filmmakers face the same challenges. What was it like for you to get your work known? Maybe I'll add your ideas to my to-do list.

SOL 2016 Day 28: Really Only Four Days Left?


Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge 2016
This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even students), visit: twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges.

Here I am, having posted for 27 days in a row. Some posts were more successful than on others, depending on the demands of daily life and my involvement level.  That's how writing goes no matter what the task. For a few days now I've been counting down, hoping I could make it to the end of the month. Now that there are only four more posts, including this one, I find myself feeling almost nostalgic. 

I've participated in such online challenges before. For the entire year of 2014, as part of a private Facebook group, I wrote and posted a haiku everyday (well, to be honest, almost every day. I missed 2 or 3). 

Writing haiku became so much a part of my life that I've continued with that group although I  admit I haven't written one every day. But every few days I find a haiku within me to post.

Last year I wrote a poem each day for NaPoWriMo as part of National Poetry Month.  National Poetry Month - April - starting four days from now.

And that's what I've been pondering as I reach the end of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Am I up for another month of writing and posting? Can I come up with 30 poems? 

I find myself doubting my ability to commit in the same way I felt as March 1st rolled around for Slice of Life. But as I make it to the home stretch of this wonderful journey, I feel that maybe, just maybe I can keep going.

SOL 2016 Day 14: What Writers Need


Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge 2016
This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even students), visit: twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges.

Today two of my coaching meetings got cancelled at the last minute, and I was the only one in the ELA Department office for much of the day.  So I spent time doing more research on writing workshop, finding information and advice for my coachee teachers. Some of that research included reading  What A Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher.  The introduction to one chapter leapt out from the page: 

“Too often in classrooms we give children little squirts of language,” Bill Martin says, “We squirt at them, and they squirt back.”

This is precisely the problem. For too long, we have not been willing to give children the time they need to develop their skills. We expect that squirting copious amounts of information in their general direction will give us the results we desire. Too often we think that equals teaching.  

Those squirts won't help our students become better readers, better communicators and better writers. Why are the powers that be in this country's educational system so afraid to slow down and give children time to grow and learn?

Reading this today made me think of all the times I was guilty of "teaching" like that. It made me more determined than ever to coach teachers to grow beyond that. It made me want to repeat over and over "mea culpa, mea culpa" as I watch students in the classrooms I visit scribble long and hard in their writer's notebooks.

SOL 2016 Day 4: The Magic of Writing Workshop

This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even some students), visit twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges.


“Writers, off you go.” These are my favorite words of writing workshop, the signal for young writers to leave the meeting area and return to their own notebooks. When a class is going well, and students excited about what they are writing, it is just magic. Yesterday Mr. Hagen’s sixth grade class was just such a moment.

As soon as he said those words, every student – and I mean every one – rushed back to their desks and bent low over their notebooks, pencils flying. I walked around, asking“What are you going to work on today?” Some wanted to start a new piece, others to finish up what they had already started.  But everyone was writing, writing, writing.

As an instructional coach, I’m privileged to observe in many different classrooms. This year our district is rolling out writing workshop for all grades, kindergarten through eighth grade. Coaching teachers to help them improve their writing instruction is pure joy for me. What an exciting time in my job. 

Most teachers in our district have jumped at this opportunity to change their practice, but not all. In one of our district training sessions, a teacher, skeptical that writing workshop would be better than her usual writing instruction asked, “So, you’re saying the fact that kids get a choice in what to write makes workshop so motivating?”

I wanted to exclaim, “Well, good lord, yes!” Of course, I gave her a more professional response, but was emphatic. Choice is exactly what her students would love, what they need.  It seems so obvious: let kids write about what is important to them, not to us. How can something so human and simple be so revolutionary? 

I wish that doubting teacher had been in Mr. Hagen’s sixth grade class yesterday. I’m glad I was.

SOL 2016 Day 3: Another Day of (Writing) Drought



Here I am on day three, already wondering what I can write about today. I think of these days as drought days.
So today I will write about the grey day that has dawned. The ground is damp so perhaps the rain we were promised came in the night. Not a good soaking rain like we desperately need, but any rain is welcome right now. Here in Northern California we are in our 4th (or is it 5th?) year of drought. Not just a little drought, but bone-dry, terrifying drought with trees dying and grass not just brown but dull grey. 

This year El Niño was promised us, and we started December and January off well. But then in February the rains dried up. Almost none for the whole month, the month that should be our wettest time of year. 

I've experienced these droughts before, having lived in California for the last 35 years. But this one is different. This one makes us worry about climate change, wonder if we can live here anymore. My brother up in Portland says people are heading north to Oregon because of it. I'm not sure I believe that, but sometimes when I visit my family up there I'm tempted to stay. But really what good will a mass exodus do if the whole world is heating up?

Now March has come, and the predictions are for more rain. We need what they call a Miracle March. We've had those before, where we make up for our low totals. This year I won't hold my breath. I'm afraid to hope. 

Perhaps writing about it today will make the rains come. Last year I wrote a rain poem, and it rained the day after I read it to my poetry group. Maybe this post will work as well. 
Oh, rain, come! 






Can I do this? -- Taking up the Slice of Life Story Challenge

It's been over three months since I last posted to this blog, and even that post was just a "hey, look at me" short notice of publications. No real writing, no real effort. That's been the issue with this blog ever since I took my new job.

When I started blogging, I knew who I was, I knew what this blog would be about.  I was a poet and middle school language arts teacher who loved to travel.

Four years later, I'm still a poet and still love to travel. What has changed? My job. After 23 years teaching 7th and 8th graders, I left the classroom to become an instructional coach for language arts teachers. I'm still an educator and I'm in classrooms all the time. But teacher? I no longer grade papers or create lesson plans. I don't go to parent-teacher conferences or bus duty. I'm no longer responsible for 90 or more 12 and 13-year-olds on a daily basis. It's hard for me to say "teacher" when I realize that all the things that make teaching so complicated are no longer part of my working life. It almost seems like it would be an insult to all the teachers I know who are still in the trenches.

I never expected these feelings to stop my blog dead in its tracks, but they have.




Then in the course of doing some research on how to help teachers implement writing workshop in their classrooms, I stumbled across the Two Writing Teachers website. What a wealth of information!   For weeks I've been reading posts on tips about writing workshop and sharing it with teachers I work with.

Inevitably, all this led me to the Slice of Life Story Challenge. According to their website, "the individual challenge began on Two Writing Teachers in 2008 and has grown each year. Adults, classroom teachers and their students across six continents participate in this weekly challenge as well as in the month-long challenge in March."

Basically, this challenge is designed to get teachers and students to write their own "slice of life" stories and share them with the world, to get them to embrace their own identities as writers. This is exactly what I'd like to inspire in the teachers I coach, hoping they will then bring this passion for writing to their students.

Since finding out about the challenge, I've been toying with the idea of contributing for months, but the idea of a daily challenge for an entire month sounded too daunting. Finally today I decided that I'd just go for it. After all, what better way to inspire others than by modeling it myself. Isn't that what teachers do? Maybe there is some teacher left in me after all.

So here is my first post. I have one more Slice of Life Tuesday to go before the March challenge begins, so I can see how it feels. All I know is, it's the first excitement I've felt about my blog in a long time.











Celebrating Women's History Month

As I announced a few weeks ago, five of my poems were just published in this anthology, Aspiring to Inspire.  I have to admit I was a bit worried about giving so many of my poems to a small publisher of e-books, but I was wrong.  After receiving my own copy, I was quickly impressed by the range of writing.  
 
Each women's selections start with a short piece about a woman who has inspired her. I wrote about my friend and teacher mentor Carolyn.  I don't think I had ever told her how inspired I have been by her, so it felt good to let her know.  Also included at the beginning of each section is a quote from a famous woman.  I was pleased to find that the quotation introducing my own work is one of my favorites by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

Since tomorrow I am embarking on a solo trip for the first time in over a decade, I'm taking this to heart. While each new trip brings a certain level of anxiety, going alone heightens that nervousness.  So I'm taking Eleanor's advice to heart.  What a great way to celebrate Women's History Month.  

What woman has most inspired you?  I'd love to hear. Anyone who would like a copy of the free e-version of Aspiring to Inspire can respond by May 2, 2014, and I'll send one to you.

 




Happy New Year to Me!

I'm very excited to see that A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) posted my #radbrief that I submitted to them last year:





My Guest Post on Mother Writer Mentor

My friend Tania Pryputniewicz asked me to write a guest post for Mother Writer Mentor, a website offering practical advice for writing mothers.  I've had the great honor to collaborate with Tania on other writing projects.  As a writer-mother herself, she has pushed me to explore my own role in the lives of children. In 2011 during her stint as poetry editor, three of my poems, Childhood, Daughters, and Uneasy Grace were published for the online journal The Fertile Source as well as an interview, Celebrating the Foregoing of Motherhood: Poetry in the Service of Spiritual Quandary, Lineage, and Teaching Adolescents.  Here is a taste of the latest:


lisa rizzo headshot
“He used to be such a nice little boy!”  That lament voiced by a student’s mother at a Back to School Night presentation has stuck in my mind for years.  I can even remember the student’s name although he must be almost 30 years old by now.  As a middle school teacher with 22 years of teaching experience, I have heard a variation of that parental cry many times.

With no children of my own, I have always hesitated to offer advice to the my students’ parents, but when my own beloved niece turned twelve, my brother and sister-in-law turned to me for help. That is when I realized that as a veteran teacher who has spent over two decades in a classroom with thousands of twelve and thirteen-year-olds, maybe I can offer some advice to mothers facing an adolescent child for the first time.  And as a writer who struggles to balance writing with my very stressful job, I can sympathize with mother-writers who have an even harder balancing act. 

To read the rest of my post, go to Mother Writer Mentor: Practical advice for writing moms

Open the Door

Last week at the magical A Room of Her Own Writers Retreat at Ghost Ranch, I participated in a guided imagery exercise led by Bhanu Kapil.  Much to my surprise, I found that I am highly susceptible to such exercises.  Being a pragmatic realist, I never would have thought I could be able to envision what waits for me in my subconscious.  In this particular exercise, Bhanu asked her audience to close their eyes and imagine a door - a door that would lead each of us to a place we wanted to be.  Not only was I able to visualize that place, but I was also able to use the ideas I gathered while I was there by writing about it later on.


The next day, as I began a hike up to Chimney Rock, I found a gate at the trail head.  I'm sure it is meant to keep animals such as dogs or horses off the trail, but I was struck by how the ritual of opening that gate - another door - prepared me to enter the rocky beauty of that trail.  And of course I was reminded of the work I had done with Bhanu.

I know that what I was looking for behind the  door I pictured is a clearer idea of how to keep writing even in the face of a very  demanding school year.  I want to stay on my writing path, just as I stayed true to the trail up to Chimney Rock.  I opened that door at the AROHO retreat, and so far have been walking my writing path during this first week back at teaching.  And I'm determined to keep going.

We all have closed doors in our lives.  Some are those we have shut ourselves, some we have been afraid or unwilling to open.  They take many different forms, and opening a door means something different for everyone.

What is your door? What would you find on the other side if you opened it?  I'd love to hear from you.  Share in the comments below.

I'm Climbing Back Up the Mesa: A Room of Her Own Foundation Writer Retreat 2013

In August, 2011,  I traveled to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for A Room of Her Own Foundation's Writer Retreat.  As I got ready to go, I was nervous, afraid I didn't belong among so many talented women writers.   Today as I begin my packing list for this year's retreat, all I feel is excitement to once again mingle with a wonderful group of writers. And I owe that to AROHO and the women I met two years ago.  
Here is a piece I wrote about that first retreat:
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                                                                                                                                                       The Day Moon

I had come to AROHO with only the idea of pushing myself forward – to bring myself back to writing. The first night at Ghost Ranch I slept poorly – a new bed, new night sounds and I was at such a high altitude – 10,000 feet above the sea in the New Mexico high desert.  The desert air was dry, dry, bone bleaching dry.  I had tossed and turned all night dreaming fragments of dreams in and out of consciousness.  I thought of my friend, Kathy who had taught me to love the desert and once again mourned her death.  I thought of the red rock hills and mesas that surrounded me on all sides. I dreamed of what would greet me the next day in Ghost Ranch.



That first morning, tired of my bed, tired of pretending to sleep, I got up early.  I went out on the porch of the Tumbleweed bunkhouse.  I guess it would be called a bunkhouse.  It is a long low building of several rooms with a kind of porch or walkway that ran the length of the building.  This bunkhouse sits up on a small mesa covered in sagebrush and cacti.  To reach my room I had to walk up and up a zigzag switchback path of desert grit uneven with rocks and fallen twigs. It was, for that week at least, the most beautiful place I had ever been.

         When I stepped out of my room, taking care not to let the screen door slam against the frame, the air was still crisp. The sun hadn’t fully risen over the surrounding mesas, and the mountains in the distance were still hung with purple shadows. The sky was completely clear with not one cloud, not even those beautiful white columns that often come to the desert in summer.  The deepest blue hadn’t come either, the sky still pale like a lovely silk shirt.

         And there to my surprise the moon still hung in the sky.  Not full yet but rounding towards fullness, at the point in her cycle that made me certain that I would still be in this magical place when she rounded fecund to shine full upon me. That day-moon softly glowed in the sky that was just beginning to pink at the edges.  I had gotten there just in time before the sun bullied its way in, causing her to fade back. Mist wrapped her soft roundness.

         I stood there graced by that moon, gazing at all the mountains north, south, east and west, mountains that Georgia O’Keefe had painted over and over in this place of her soul, and the sleepless night fell away from my shoulders.

         I can’t honestly say that any lingering doubts or fears were completely gone.  After all I still had to navigate my way to breakfast in the dining hall full of women I had barely met the night before.   No, the fears were still there. The doubts about myself as a writer or my right to be there were all there, small pebbles lying heavy in my center.

         But the moon, bravely hanging in the morning sky when she wasn’t supposed to be there, gently muscling her way in, gave me the courage to set my pack on my back and head down that switch-back mesa path. It gave me the courage to stride out under the cottonwood trees, plunk my cafeteria tray down and to find a place at the table.



Convergence

This year my birthday is 12/12/12, the last time in this century that such a triple digit date will occur, and  according to the ancient Mayans, it is supposed to be a day that begins a complete spiritual transformation. While not expecting any miracles today, I do find it interesting that in the last few days before my numerically special birthday I've gathered a few seeds of that could grow into something significant.

  About a month ago I wrote about one of my writing quandaries:  what can I consider "real" writing?  Should I count the writing I do for my teaching job as part of my writing regimen? I received loads of advice from people who all basically told me that I should change the way I view the place writing takes in my life.  Of course, being a stubborn first-born I didn't really listen to them.  Or maybe  like many people, I needed to hear this lesson over and over before I could figure out how to listen to them.  So now I've been hit over head a few more times -- and finally the message has gotten through.  

First I received a post from one of the blogs I follow:  Writing Through Life by Amber Lea Starfire. Titled Blogtalk: A Writer's Attitude  this post discussed the same issue I have been struggling with:  should all the writing I do that is not "creative" count as part of my writing life.  Ms. Starfire says yes! Her advice has encouraged me to pay more attention to all the writing I do thoughout my days and make sure that I work to craft everything I write with attention and care.
  Then I found a link to a beautiful video created by David Shiyang Liu that is based on a lecture by Ira Glass: Ira Glass on Storytelling.  Glass discussed the dilemma that a beginner in any field faces: that the craft she produces cannot come close to her aspirations.  Instead, the beginner artist must persevere in spite of the disparity between her ability and the ideal to which she aspires. While not technically a beginner in the writing field, like most writers I know, I do suffer from writer-doubt.  So it was good to hear encouragement - once again - about not letting imperfections stifle my writing.  While I know all this, sometimes I need to be reminded.


And the final piece to the puzzle came together when a friend shared an article on Facebook:  The Art of Being Still by Silas House published in the NYTimes.com Opinion Pages.  In this article, House offered advice on learning to cultivate what he calls a stillness of mind that would enable me to go through the day observing the world from a writer's point of view.  By doing this, writers can consider themselves as writing everyday even when not physically putting words to paper.  While it would be tempting to take advantage of this technique to the exclusion of actual writing, I decided to try it that very day.  While driving to a friend's house, I practiced my stillness of mind.  During that 30 minute drive, I thought about several new ideas for a memoir piece I've started including some inspired on the weather I contemplated that day.  

I also got the idea for this blog post.  So happy birthday to me.

The New Writer's Block

For the last few months I've been in a serious writer's funk.  All my usual tricks for getting myself motivated to write after a long day of teaching middle school hadn't seemed to work.  Blank days on my writing calendar, an empty daily journal, my book of writing prompts ignored -- who cares?  Even my writing group and a new poetry workshop left me feeling high and dry. 

Then on election night I went to my poetry group meeting instead of sitting at home grinding my teeth at the election results. I was so afraid that everything I cared about would be defeated.  Here in California we were fighting for Proposition 30 to save the public school system (and my job) and fighting against union-bashing Proposition 32. And of course, there was the very real threat of a new president who said he didn't worry about poor people and a vice president who wants to dismantle the medicare system.

When I left the house that night, Romney had won 133 electoral votes while Obama had only 3.  Proposition 30 was losing and Proposition 32 was winning.  What better thing to do than sit in a cafe talking about poetry even if I hadn't written a word in weeks?  Finally at 9 p.m., unable to stand the suspense any longer, I surreptitiously checked my iPhone.  As soon as I read the good news about Obama's re-election, I felt a weight lift.

The next day, the good news kept rolling in.  Because of Prop. 30, the threat of losing a month's salary has lifted.  California's working people - including this introverted poet who went door-to-door precinct walking -  were able to successfully defeat the multi-millionaires who had flooded our state with money to destroy our unions.  That was a good day. 

And, unexpectedly, since then I have been able to write.  Who knew that political anxiety could create such writer's block?  It had never occurred to me that my fears were affecting me so powerfully. Hopefully I'll have the next four years to get ready for the next onslaught.

What is “Real” Writing?



For the last year I have indulged in a subtle form of self-flagellation by keeping a calendar of my writing days.  On days when I write, I get a green star on the calendar. On days without writing, the blank white calendar square stares at me reproachfully.  A few days ago, feeling guilty about one more day away from my writing desk with no poems drafted or revised, no blog posts written, one more day when I could not put a star on the calendar, it suddenly occurred to me that I had just spent the last three days working for hours on curriculum for my upcoming classes. 

For that curriculum I created writing prompts for my students to follow, crafted sentence frames to help them generate ideas, researched sources for them to use, wrote my own examples of assignments to model for them and then revised my ideas until I felt they were ready to give to  students.  Let me see, the words I just used were “created,” “crafted,” “researched,” “wrote” and “revised” – all words that are used by people who write.  So why – after all these years – have I never seen the writing I do for my teaching job as real writing?  This led me to the question – just what do I mean by “real” writing? 

As with most people who call themselves writers, I have a day job that earns me the money that allows me to keep body and soul together (and have a comfortable middle class lifestyle – no artist in the garret for me!) so that I can write.  However, unlike many writers – and unlike myself for many, many years before becoming a teacher - my day job is not just something I do because of necessity.  My day job is something that I love and find incredibly rewarding and creative.  In fact, I have never thought I really wanted be a “full-time” writer – to be truly fulfilled, I need to teach as well as write.  So if I think teaching is so creative – truly an art – then why do I ignore the writing I do for that art?  Instead of saying I hadn’t written for the last three days, why didn’t I just name what kind of writing I did – educational writing?

The day of that revelation I had lunch with my friend Barbara Ann Yoder, a fellow writer and writing coach.  Barbara has written a book about writing primarily aimed for women who have trouble slaying their writing demons.  I met her at the AROHO Retreat in New Mexico last August, but luckily for me she also lives in the Bay Area. We’ve started to meet now and then to talk about our writing lives -- and our demons.  That day, sitting outside the Ferry Building on one of those sunny days so rare for summer in San Francisco, I told her about my new conflict. She suggested that perhaps my writing calendar couldn't tell the truth of my writing life.  Just having a small space to show yes or no – so black and white, so unlike my writing life that ebbs and flows, has fits and starts –doesn’t let me tell the whole story.

Barbara gave me a tip that she has shared with some of her clients: keep a writing journal in which I record what I create - or don't create - each day as well as a short reflection about my thoughts and feelings about that day's work.  This idea resonated with me.  I know how important self-reflection is for my own students.  I have them reflect about their writing all the time. Why didn't I think about it for myself?  I had nothing to lose.  Besides, it would give me a chance to buy another journal to add to my large collection.

After several days of online research looking for the perfect tool for this new way of recording my work, I found what I wanted at Journals and Notepads (coincidentally owned by Deonne Kahler, another AROHO friend!): a weekly calendar that would give me a small space to write about each day with a place to list plans for future projects. I wanted to keep my notes brief, otherwise I would be tempted to spend all my time writing about writing instead of actually writing. 

Since the day my journal arrived, I have recorded my progress each day.  I still have conflicting feelings about the days when I don't work on what I'm now calling, for lack of a better term, my artistic writing.  However, being able to record the events or emotions of a day when I haven't been able or willing to sit at my desk has helped me feel better about my work. I also can give myself credit (doesn't that sound like a teacher?) for my educational writing. 

I still keep my calendar as well, and  only give myself a green star for a day with artistic work. After all, even though I know I work with many kinds of writing each day, the words that make me feel like a writer are the ones in a poem or memoir or this blog. 

So, I thank Barbara for giving me some better tools to sustain me and supporting me to get a little clearer about how I think of myself as a writer.  That journal has already helped to keep me from derailing myself when guilt or doubt creeps up.  Unfortunately, I'm the still only person who can get me back to the writing desk - even the best writing coach in the world couldn't do that.