Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some Excuses and a Quickwrite

     So, that commitment to making the time for writing is proving to be more challenging for me than I thought it would be.  I definitely have writing more on my mind lately and I know I have done a much better job of blogging about my reading, but I have not set aside the time at home like I said I would during week one.  I know that it has a lot to do with the commitments that I have had since school finished.  I have had a meeting or training to go to every single day since school ended except for this week (I know that I am just making excuses here, but I am only human).  Some of that training has made me more of a writer as I am spending my mornings in the Milwaukee Writing Project involved with writing.  It helped last week to have "homework" to write about the writing circle topics.  I have to write before Monday, but this week was a week off because of the holiday and I have used my time to feed my reading habit.  I am rather obsessed with reading and the challenges like #bookaday and #nerdbery might have made me feel a little competitive and given me an excuse to be reading non-stop (I am accomplishing a goal here...not procrastinating or being lazy or avoiding housework).

      I was really inspired by Jen's blog last Sunday and read Ralph Fletcher's book A Writing Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You this week.  I need to figure out what will work for me and my students and get my notebook going.  Just having the thoughts about what I might put there has brought ideas to my mind.  I start every school year with a lesson I got from Nancie Atwell's books, sharing my writing territories.  I cannot wait to share that list this year and actually to have written some stories and quick writes about those territory ideas.  I know this will be one of the sections in the notebook along with a section for quotes.  I know that part of the appeal of Tumblr for some of my creative students is the ability to capture great ideas there...I want them to have that in their notebooks too.  I also have been musing about how to use my class blogs better.  I like the way a lot of bloggers have certain memes that they do on certain days.  I would love to get my students to think about their blogs this way...Mondays we talk about what they are reading, Tuesdays it's time for a top ten list, Wednesdays is about food, etc.  I just really need to think about requirements and workshop and how to set everything up.  Okay, that was a complete teacher brain moment.  I was talking about my own writing here.  It never fails to astound me how my brain never stops thinking about what might work best for my students.  

     Now that I have spent more time than necessary talking about why I haven't written this week, I decided that I would give Monday's quick write a shot.  I have actually been mulling over this idea for the past few days after having read it on Monday.  I absolutely love the idea for story stew and can definitely see using it on multiple occasions this year in writing. 

     The woman sat there stroking the well-worn fedora as if it were a cat on her lap.  She rocked a little bit in her seat every time her hand moved lovingly down the rim of the hat.  She couldn't believe she was here.  Just this morning she and Edwin had been crunching on cereal in companionable silence at the dining room table.  She with her new P.D. James thriller, and he with his New Yorker.  This morning had been one of those pleasant oasis mornings that she looked forward to each and every night and had learned to depend on throughout their 50 years of marriage.  How could she be here now?  He was just there, in that chair, engrossed in a story one minute and then babbling nonsense to her the next.  She had known something was wrong when his magazine slipped out of his hands.  There was no way he would carelessly abandon his reading unless it was involuntary.  She had hesitated, not wanting to recognize the signs.  Then, without really knowing how she got there, her hand was dialing and she was soon connected to the dispatcher.  
"9-1-1, What's your emergency?" The voice of the operator was all business.  
She hesitated again for a fraction of a second then, "My husband, I think he is having a stroke."
"Is he conscious?"
"Is he breathing?"
"Okay, Ma'am? We are sending out the responders.  They will be there momentarily."  It was all so calm and efficient.  How could they be so calm?  When the fire truck got there, the two firefighters started to administer first aid and to try to stabilize Edwin until the paramedics arrived.  Then it was a whirlwind with sirens waking up the whole neighborhood.  She had come in the ambulance with them and had to sit to the side trying to stay out of the way as they administered to Edwin.  She had grabbed the hat as she left the house.  Edwin would want his hat for when they came home.  He was never outside without it.  

     "GRAN!" Ellie screeched as she barreled into the waiting room.  The five-year-old was filled with an exuberance that she envied sometimes.  The old woman cringed slightly and then grinned at Ellie, not wanting the young girl to see her inner turmoil.  
   "Ellie, we walk inside and use our inside voice," her mother admonished.  Katherine looked haggard with dark circles under her eyes.  She let out a big yawn and approached the older woman.  "Geez, Mom.  I am sorry you had to go through that alone.  Any news?"
"Nothing yet.  The doctors seemed to think that they could stabilize him, but we won't know about the damage until he wakes up." She looked down at his fedora and started stroking it again as a tear made a path down her face. There were so many years between them, and so many years to look forward to.  She clung to that piece of their shared history and prayed that it would be a part of their continued future.  She looked at their beautiful daughter and recognized the fright in those pale blue eyes.  Katherine sat down next to her mother and placed her hand over the old woman's hand, trying to still the movements.   
     While the two women spoke, Ellie had found a piece of paper and her crayons in her mother's purse.  She sat contentedly on the floor and used the coffee table in the waiting room as her own personal writing desk.  Her tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth as she squinted in concentration.  
"Look, Mama" Ellie ran over to Katherine with a grin on her face.  She handed the paper to her mother who gasped and shoved it toward the older woman.  The old woman looked at Katherine and saw the tears threatening to spill over in her eyes.  She took the paper and read what little Ellie had written there.  On the paper was a drawing of a man and a woman.  The man had on a nice hat and the couple were holding hands.  In her kindergarten handwriting Ellie had written the words, "Don't be sick and sad, Gran and Gramps."  If only it were that simple.  

As happens frequently with my quickwrites, this one got away from me and took on a mind of its own.  I am collecting all these little seed ideas from these exercises.  One of them will germinate soon, I'm sure.  

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