I’ve had a life-long love affair with books. Since childhood I loved losing myself between the pages and getting lost in the current of a great story. As an educator my favorite subject to teach was writing – helping children find their own voice on the page. Is it any surprise I married a writer?
Yet I was terrified to write as a student. I’d been told by a teacher that if I could not form a sentence in my mind before I put a pen to paper, I didn’t have anything to say. Oh how I feared she was right! It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned how wrong she was. There I learned that the craft, the act of writing was a tool – much like a pick-axe or shovel – that could be used to unearth what was buried below the surface, and that only in the depths of thought could one find a true voice. Soon thereafter a first grader retrieved her paper from me on which I had branded with a brilliant red A+, only to burst into tears. As I cradled her shoulders she cried, “I wanted to write a story about a lion and a unicorn, but I didn’t know how to spell lion or unicorn. So I wrote about a cat and a dog!”
From that moment I encouraged my students to “vomit” their thoughts onto the page in stop and starts, phrases, images and half impulses, without worry about making sense. All I asked was that they catch their ideas – those tiny tricky fish – before they slipped away. Only then would I ask them to begin the process of shaping these primitive ideas into sentences; folding in interesting nouns, verbs and adjectives; smoothing the rough edges as they ordered and re-ordered paragraphs. Finally, after many such edits would they begin to comb the story for misspellings culminating in a first draft! Writing was a process, never a final product and “Spelling LAST!” was my mantra.
In this ebook and information age, I do most of my reading online, working from my home office. My design hand has touched every inch of the space. Yet it still hasn’t really felt like me! I’d been told my combination home office/guest room/meditation space is every woman’s dream of a “room of her own“, but something’s been missing. Determined I’ve decided not spend a penny on the space, and shopped the room for ideas. In my last move I’d already whittled my library from 7 bookshelves to one; consisting of mostly of favorite books I’d already read. I wondered if I should get rid of it. While it held binders of memories of hours and days lost in mind sojourns, it is now the least used corner in the room. Old books…the “slippery fish” that have led me to a fresh take on a familiar space.
Today I will share with you some fun ideas I’ve stumbled upon in my journey to envelope myself in once again in the stories I’d loved along the journey of my life. Later I will share the result.