With my two daughters back in school, my PSU teaching wrapped up, and the writer's workshops not yet begun, I suddenly find myself with an abundance of quiet space. I am finally able to really get the word out about my upcoming writing groups. I also have time to read, take walks, listen to funk music that makes me dance around the house... I've even been sitting and staring into space and randomly falling asleep on the couch for afternoon catnaps. All this means that my creative juices are flowing.
I have some new ideas for the fall Middle School writer's workshop. Granted, one of the special things about the Write Now! writer's workshops is that students get to write what they want to write, and that won't be changing. Students also have the option of getting support with writing homework. But I have a third idea to propose to the writers, and I am curious what kind of response I will get from them. How many of them will get excited like I am?
Background...As we all know, there is an ongoing abundance of bad news coming at us from multiple sources all of the time, and frankly, it can be scary. I've seen and felt my daughter's struggle with fears about random acts of violence, who the next president will be, and the people walking outside our house pushing shopping carts. I am guessing she is not the only child reckoning with fears much bigger than she is. In middle school, students begin learning more and more about our world's violent history and current conflicts. It can be a lot to digest.
Which brings me to this new idea. What if we searched for and collected good news and made a publication of amazing things happening around the world. We could distribute it as a rebellious and educational act against the onslaught of negative news we get overwhelmed with everyday. This would not be the first time this has been done, but it would be the first time WE did it. And it could be fun.
Another idea: There is this thing called "ending it well", which means that if you have a bad dream or if you are lying in bed trying to go to sleep and some event from the day is bugging you, you go back into that dream or into that event and you make up a different end for it. The unconscious mind can't distinguish the real from the imagined, and it "ends it well". What if we used the things in our experience that still bug us, that still bring up uncomfortable feelings that we don't know how to deal with, and create stories with those problems and then end them well. That could be interesting too.
We'll see. It's not uncommon that I get excited about some idea when I'm in my cave, and then when I bring it into the classroom, the students already know what they want to write. That is great too! My true purpose is to hold space for them to discover their voice and express their stories, so I am happy either way.
What it comes down to is this: I am looking forward to all the possibilities of a new year of writing with others.
And... if you hear of some awesome good news happening somewhere in the world, share it in the comments sections here. I am going to be collecting some examples to share with the writers during the first writer's workshop. Thanks!
Sarah Pemberton is a teacher, a writer, and the founder of Write Now!. Sarah lives in Portland, Oregon with her two daughters.