Category: teaching

Reading [grief] like a Writer: THE POND

The Pond by Nicola Davies is—in hindsight—the book I wish I’d found immediately after my brother died suddenly in February 2001. But even if it had existed then, I probably wouldn’t have found it, because it’s a children’s picture book, and I was an adult without children at the time.

Craft Strategy: White Space

I suspect my undergraduate writing students will have no difficulty recognizing at least one craft strategy in my recently published essay, “Reckoning.” I teach it early and often.

Perhaps it’s my trademark.

I’m talking about white space. I like to use it around a single short line to make the line stand out and demand attention. It’s a strategic move that stuck with me after several semesters of poetry in college, even as I migrated to prose. To be clear, I’m not talking about dialogue, which might look set off by white space because of grammar conventions. I’m talking about an original line of my thoughts that I deliberately place by itself.

I know your eyes go there.

Crafting Grief: Narrative Point of View

First in a series of posts looking closely at the craft of writing about grief Last month I facilitated a writing workshop about narrative point of view (NPOV), and afterwards it occurred to me that I have looked closely at the craft of many texts specifically about grief. I’ll even be so bold as to…

Feedback is important (and I mess up sometimes)

In the first post in this series, I was thinking about the feedback I give student writers. That leads me to another big observation: sometimes I mess up, perhaps even bad enough to set a kid back a little. Learn more about two conversations with students that I’d like to redo.

Look closer at your neighborhood public school, Indy

I’m a parent of two preschoolers in Indianapolis. I hear parents talk. I know many are enraged by a public school lottery that feels like a smoke and mirrors magic show at a Vegas casino. I know that a rising number of parents are at least marginally aware of the privileges they carry in their…

Writing as a way of life

I was everything in those stories that I thought I couldn’t be in real life: a sassy smart aleck with an uncanny ability to insult and/or shame all those who wronged me in any way. I also wrote letters to my mom (my frequent antagonist) and then tore them into tiny undetectable pieces and threw them away. I suppose it was always about the process of writing for me, about how I felt after writing, not about publishing my end products.

What writers do: Obsess, recall, wonder, question, and record (an example)

I once lost a journal, left it behind at a breakfast diner in the heart of Boston… I didn’t sleep for two full days worrying about it. …Had it been noticed or unwittingly swept into the trash? …did anyone read it? Did they laugh? In the good way? Or cry? Did they see any potential? Did they like it? Boston is a literary city, after all, so there was a lot at stake for me.