I am doing the A-Z challenge; today’s letter is W for-what else-writing.
No Back Seat Driving
For many people writing is either the easiest or the hardest thing to do. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. I taught language arts at the middle school level for sixteen years, so I have seen both ends of the spectrum. I could read one paragraph of a student’s writing, and form an immediate opinion as to which side of the fence he or she was standing.
All of my classes were grouped heterogeneously. That means that the kids ran the gamut from exceptionally bright, to very challenged. Before California adopted the Standards, we were required to teach eight different domains of writing. I won’t list them all, but it included a short story, a biographical piece of writing, an autobiographical piece, a descriptive piece, and a report of information. Students seemed to apply themselves fairly well to the assignments, but it was a lot of work for me.
Once we got technology involved, it seemed to go better, because kids naturally preferred typing to long-hand. I had nine computers in my class, at one point in time, and that made for a generally better approach to the whole matter of writing. We even had computers which allowed students to talk into the microphone, and the computer would do the writing. This allowed even the lowest-end students to produce a piece of writing.
After all, isn’t that what writing is all about? Telling stories? For me writing has always come naturally. I attribute it directly to the vast amounts of reading I did as a kid. It was really nothing more than cheap entertainment, and coming from a large family, we were encouraged to read early on. Both of my parents read avidly, even though it is hard to fathom where they found the time.
But writing also got me into trouble, when I began to get so wrapped up in what I was writing, that I began to skip some of the basics, such as sleeping. When I would awake in the middle of the night, and not be able to get back to sleep, I would get frustrated, and feel that I was wasting time. Why lie in bed, when I could be doing something productive such as writing? So I would get up and pound away at my keyboard.
Can you say manic? I know you can. When it was suggested that maybe I spent too much time writing and too little time sleeping, I had to back the truck up, and contemplate the universe. Eventually I decided that just maybe, those people who were making this suggestion, just might be write, uh, right.
Prior to doing this current A-Z challenge, I had curbed my writing to only one or two pieces per month, finding that giving it a break for a while, might allow me to gain some perspective on the whole topic. And I think I achieved what I wanted. I was dealing with some significant life issues, which took precedence, and I allowed them to do so.
Now that I am back in a writing mode, I still do not allow myself to get carried away. If I want to write I do, but I do not spend more than an hour, at the most, per day, and I never write in the middle of the night, when I should be sleeping. I had to learn the hard way that sleep is too important to take a back seat to writing.
Besides, there is no backseat in my little Ford Ranger.