Category Archives: blogging

Of Reading and Writing: An Overview

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My ability to lose sight of my love of reading and writing never ceases to amaze me.  At times, the strength of the connection between the two comes back at me two-fold, and I fall in love all over again.  For example, years ago I read Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.  It forever changed the way I read and how I view the time I spend reading.  If I were to make a list of books that profoundly shaped who I am today, it would certainly be at the top of the list.  Currently, I am in the middle of rereading it.  When I read it years ago, I borrowed it from the library and carefully noted its recommended reading list.  Today I purchased the Kindle version for easy annotation (Kindle books versus traditional books is another blog post altogether – one I plan to write soon).  I am picking it apart in hopes of learning why it resonated with me so deeply.  That, in fact, is the entire point of the book.  We learn to write by dissecting what we read.

Recently – as always – I came across the perfect books at the perfect time.  I just finished The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley.  Of course, there is a story behind my love of these books.  Incidentally, I had the opportunity to hear Donalyn Miller speak at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) a few years ago while completing my teaching certificate.  Knowing that she was to speak on encouraging students to read, I eagerly headed to SVSU on a cold, snowy Saturday morning hoping to learn more.  I hoped to learn how to reach students who do not like to read.  The entire concept of not loving – nevermind liking – to read is completely foreign to me.  That day I left inspired to create an extensive classroom library in spite of the fact that I will not be teaching English Language Arts (ELA) classes, along with her latest book, and little else.  She encouraged us all to reach those students who do not see the connection between reading and pleasure.  Her ideas were (and are still) practical; however, I still was not convinced that I could make a difference as a non-ELA secondary teacher.

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Fast-forward several years and my sister happens to mention the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  It immediately rings a bell, we discuss it, and I have to read it as soon as possible, along with the sequel.  There is so much to discuss in both of Donalyn Miller’s books.  The ideas she presents should be the focus of reading education, but that would require a fundamental shift in how reading is taught at all levels which is a shame.  Both books deserve their own blog posts, as well as a post tying the two together.  Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley inspired me to reread Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.  It is an example of what Donalyn Miller coins “wild reading” in action and demonstrates how “wild readers” stay inspired, continue reading, and challenge themselves.  I am now convinced that I do indeed have a role to play.

Stay tuned for a series of posts discussing the many angles of all three books, as well as my own take on the importance of reading and writing in my life.  It is taking center stage now for a variety of reasons.  I am still patiently trying to create a writing and reading routine that works for me.  I will not let this go.  It is too important, and I have too much to say.

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Of Witchy Wolves and Writing

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One of my oldest pieces of writing that survives online is my take on the witchy wolves of the Omer plains.  You can find it here over at Michigan’s Other Side.  I wrote it specifically for the website back in 2006-2007.

My dilemma is now this.  I have grown leaps and bounds as a writer since then.  There are many things I would like to correct in the original.  At the same time, people seem to find and enjoy the original – particularly locals.  The witchy wolf legend is going nowhere.  This is exactly why I wrote the piece in the first place.  Currently. It seems to come up every six months or so.  Why fix it?

Even though my every instinct as a writer is to polish the piece and have the website publish that instead, there really is no reason to do so.  I need to learn to leave it be.

Lately, I’ve finally started writing stories from my childhood that need to be told.  They started as blog posts that I planned to share here, but now I am not so sure.  They are evolving into what I’ve always planned to write.  They may have to wait.

Hello Fall

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Ah, fall.  Mine is off to a great start.  I am eager to get writing once again.  Lately I’ve given a lot of thought to what I would like to share here and where I would like to take my blog.  I’ve come to a few conclusions.

  1. I would love to once again cultivate a blogging community and share some of my favorite finds here. The issue becomes my favorite blogs seem to become inactive or disappear altogether.  It has happened more than once.  We will see.  I’m not exactly sure where I am going to take this.
  2. I will continue to write about my reading life and books I love and hate. Actually, I can’t think of a book that I hate, but that is beside the point.  I have several books I need to review at the moment, so look for those book reviews soon.
  3. My favorite writings involve music, and sadly, I haven’t written about music in years. I may just have to bring it back.  The easiest money I ever made happened to be from writing articles about my favorite songs (and the memories I attached to them) for a now-defunct online magazine called JamsBio.  I need to revisit this concept.  I am a firm believer in learning about others through playlists and book lists.

Stay tuned!

Bring Pretty Back

If you haven’t checked out Bring Pretty Back yet, you need to do so now.  Kristen is such a positive person, and her message of encouragement for all women is what we all need.  You can find episodes of Pretty Coffee with Kristen here.

The reason I wanted to talk about Bring Pretty Back today is because I can relate.  I know exactly what it feels like to feel ugly and to lose self-confidence.  I’ve struggled with self-confidence my entire life.  I have never felt beautiful or felt that society has ever accepted the way that I look.  When Kristen talks about feeling pretty, I understand what she is trying to say, but I can’t help wondering when I ever felt beautiful.  I would love to provide an example, but I truly can’t think of one.

My entire life I’ve found it difficult to find clothes that fit correctly thanks to my short stature and my Turners body.  There is a reason why women with Turner Syndrome joke about starting their own clothing lines.  The fact that women with bodies like mine are not normally represented anywhere in popular culture just adds to the feeling that my body is and always will be “wrong.”

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life, but even when I was within 15 lbs. of what I “should” weigh, I still felt fat and ugly.  Looking back at that time, I was pretty, or at least cute.  Even then, I couldn’t enjoy it because all I could still see were my imperfections.  With those imperfections, according to popular culture and my childhood peers, I was unworthy of notice.

 

Making Peace with the Past

rereading

Lately I’ve come to realize that my life is about to fundamentally change yet again, and in some ways it already has. It is exciting, yes, but at the same time, I’ve found myself thinking about my past. At one time, I wanted to forget about my life in Bay City. Some parts of it were too painful to think about. I wanted to forget it even happened. Slowly I began to realize that I couldn’t ignore those experiences as they have helped make me the person I am today. In all honesty, it wasn’t all bad. If that were the case, one would hope that I had moved on long before I actually did.

In my efforts to get back to writing, I reread several of the blog posts I wrote over the last year or two. At times I nail it; at others, not so much. I will say that I have been true to myself. Fortunately, I have made peace with my past. It has not been easy. I keep thinking of how much time I’ve wasted. At the same time, I am at a place now in my life where when it is right, it will definitely be right. I now know precisely what I want. That should count for something, right?

More than anything, I am done wasting time on things that do not interest me at all. If I learned anything from my years in Bay City, I learned how much I love reading, writing, and learning in general. One of my favorite things is to discuss books and writing, or well-developed ideas. While I’ve been nurturing my love of reading and writing for some time now, something seemed to be missing. I wasn’t quite ready to jump into writing again. While I had no problem writing flash fiction or short stories, working on larger projects didn’t seem right. I wanted to ensure I had a good writing process in place, along with the best possible tools, before tackling something larger. I am finally closer to having that all in place. It is now a matter of consistently writing and deciding where to begin first.

I have to admit, I am lucky. I now know the right people to ask when I need a book recommendation or I am struggling with anything related to writing. I have all I need. It is now a matter of putting fingers to keyboard. Up next: A post describing some of the best resources I’ve discovered for writers. They are so worth it, even if it takes time to put everything in place. Hopefully someone else out there will find what I have to say useful. That is the entire reason why I blog.

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In Like A Lion

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The best of intentions don’t always work. I intended to start blogging again in January. It just didn’t happen. Life happened. So far in 2017, Grandma Reid passed away, I’ve finally been matched with a little sister through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and my exam schedule for my teacher certification tests is set (one down, three more to go!). There is no easy way to write about my life at the moment. I’m not quite ready to write about Grandma Reid yet – although I will one day. I can’t write about all of the wonderful experiences I am having with my little sister – at least not in a way that is true to the whole story. I understand why, certainly, but it could be such a fun topic. As far as my career is concerned, nothing can really change until all of my tests are complete. Instead, I am going to have to focus on blogging about reading and writing for the moment.

I’ve read so many great books lately, thanks to book club and my sister. Reading is becoming a habit again, and I am a better person for it. Finally reading has largely replaced TV and movies in my life. I can’t ask for much more than that. As I have said before, I need to go back to keeping a list of books I’ve read. I want to share them with all of you. By listing the books I read on my blog, I became an intentional reader. I still am. I need to get back to sharing what I read. I plan on eventually sharing book reviews on GoodReads as well.

Writing is another story entirely. I always miss it when I don’t write. I need to write. Even though I’ve owned Scrivener for over a year, I finally took the time to go through the entire tutorial and learn how to use it properly. I don’t think I will be without it ever again. I love it, and it is exactly what every writer needs. The capacity built into Scrivener to meet the needs of almost any type of writer imaginable is mind-boggling. It becomes apparent once you go through the tutorial and start using the program just how customizable it truly is.

At the advice of a friend, I’ve also started using 750words.com. The verdict is still out. I do like the idea of free writing 750 words each and every day without it having to be used for a polished piece of writing. I’ve also been exploring RedNotebook, which I’ve been using as a personal journal. In fact, you can actually create numerous journals. It is basic, but great for creating lists too.

In April I hope to attend at least a couple of writers’ conferences. Nothing is settled yet, but the reality is that I could attend writers’ conferences every weekend in April, with the exception of Easter weekend, if I wanted to do so. I ask myself why I go, and then as soon as it is over, I realize that I always take away something useful. In fact, one of the reasons why I am so excited about these particular conferences is due to a possible opportunity to present on education for writers in an upcoming workshop this fall. If nothing else, I will take away something. There are other things going on behind the scenes as well, as always. So many things to do and never enough time!

As a future teacher, I can only hope to reach a point in my career where I can tell it like it is, only with slightly more tact.

As a future teacher, I can only hope to reach a point in my career where I can tell it like it is, only with slightly more tact.