I started teaching a new class yesterday for Story Circle Network called, “20 Minutes a Day of Writing for 30 Days.” I have 14 students, which is more than I’ve ever had at SCN since we pride ourselves on small classes and because online teaching can be intense, especially when giving detailed critique. But this class doesn’t involve critique at all. Instead, I simply read every day what my students have written and write a quick encouraging response. I’m their cheerleader on their quest to establish a daily writing habit. This is much easier than doing what I normally do in my flash nonfiction and fiction classes, which is to go line-by-line and give a detailed critique of essays or stories once a week for five weeks.
As of right now, it’s 2:20 in the afternoon, I’ve read 9 of the 14 Day One responses and I’ve already had several moments of feeling choked up and at least one almost full blown boo-hoo. I encouraged everyone to not worry about what they were writing – to relax and let the words flow – and not to be concerned about any judgement coming from me or their weekly reading partner. Well, I guess a tiny bit of encouragement was all that was needed to open the flood gates because these Day One writings are full of honest, this-is-a-tough-time-right-now writing and I feel deeply touched with the level of trust that is jumping off the pages.
I also realized while reading these 20 minute outpourings why many people on my blog love what I often refer to as my ramblings. These are just me sitting in my den with my computer on my lap and no real topic. Just me and my fingers and the words appearing on the page. A stripped down version of any polish I try to put on anything and I think the honesty of those ramblings hits home for people who may be feeling much the same way. That’s how I felt today reading my students’ submissions.
Covid-19 was mentioned in most of these posts. I sometimes am not aware of just how much concern I carry around with me about our current pandemic. Just last night I awoke from a dream where a part of a building had been blown up because the people inside had developed a more contagious strain of Covid (as if blowing up a building would help with an airborne illness). The dystopic scene shifted to Ray and me being stopped on the road by a young official who wanted to take our temperatures. Once he did that, he took Ray over to a table where he received an injection that would help bolster his immune system. When the man came back, I asked if I was next. He shook his head and said, “You’re clearly over 65. Your face looks younger but your body gives away your age. We don’t have enough for everyone so you don’t get one.” How’s that for a window into my feelings about my body image and age? Not to mention, my clear fear about where we might go with this pandemic.
Anyway, that’s going to be my 20 minutes for today. I’m going to make an effort to write earlier before I’m just too tired to get my thoughts on the page. Of course, I have read that it’s great to write when you’re tired. You get a lot looser and write down how you’re really feeling.
Talk tomorrow, my friends, and stay safe. Hugs to all.