Friday, October 8, 2010

Why We Do What We Do

Today, out on the playground, I told one of my first graders that he needed to tie his shoe.  He has had trouble tying it so far, so I added that I could help him and asked if he's been practicing at home.  His face lit up.  He said, "YES!  AND I GOT IT!  WANNA SEE?"  I watched him very slowly and determinedly tie his shoe with an extremely furrowed brow, so full of concentration.  When he was done, he beamed and I gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was.  Then he went off to play. 

It was one of those moments that reminded me why I teach, why the little ones, and how much I love it.  You can absolutely physically see when they finally meet success at something with which they have struggled.  They just exude pride and excitement. (You should see them when they realize that they can read!)

So it got me thinking about why I write.  I have thought about this a lot  in the past few months, since I haven't had a whole lot of time to write, and I really haven't been beating myself up over it.  And I realized that I haven't been beating myself up because I don't really write to get published.  (Oh yes I did.  I said that.)  Now, I know that the holy grails that most of us writerly bloggers are going for are agent representation and publication.  It's why we pay attention to details and join SCWBI and peruse editors' blogs and do crazy things like locking out life for a month to try to achieve 50,000 words during NaNovember.  Have I been serious about wanting to be published in the past?  Yes.  Will I keep up my subscriptions and keep my ear to the floor in publishing circles?  Yes, because I think it's good to pay attention and I don't want to get lazy should I decide to step up my game.  I'm not opposed to publication (now that just sounds crazy) but as wonderful as that would be, if I'm being honest, it's really not my main goal at the moment.

I write for two main reasons:

1. I write for release.
I spend my days with noisy little guys.  I love it, but there is not a moment of quiet or down time all day long, and then I come home to little ones.  Writing allows me some peace.  My shoulders relax.  My brain is allowed to wander to places that are a little bit darker, a little more foreboding, a little less rated E for Everyone.  My writing isn't graphic, but there is a big difference between YA and age 6, lol.  It reminds me that I am a grownup with more complex thoughts and ideas, and it allows me time when nothing looks like a lesson plan telling me what I need to do next, but instead the world is mine to create, unfurl, quickly or slowly.  I am not responsible to or for anyone else when I write.

2. I write for my children.
Maybe it's all the "dead body shows" (Handsome Hubby's phrase) I watch, like Forensic Files, but I have this weird need to put part of me on paper for my kids.  And I don't mean that I actually even write about myself, but I want to give them an idea of who I am through what I write.  Where my mind wanders.  What I was really like when they were 8 and 3.  I have a terrible memory and I don't remember what my mom was like when I was that age.  (My mom, for the record, is still very much alive and well, lol - Hi, Mom!)  Could I ask her?  Sure.  Easily.  But what I'm trying to capture isn't what you can tell a person through stories about when they were young or what you can see in a photograph.  When my girls are adults with young kids of their own, I want them to know what weird, interesting things were spinning through my own head at this time in my life.  Things that I won't even remember next week if I don't write them down, because they're figments of my imagination.

So... that's why I teach, and that's why I write. 

Why do you do what you do?


Stephanie Thornton said...

I write because I have to. I find a story (or a footnote) or an amazing woman in history and I just can't stop thinking about her story.

I teach because I love it. It's hard, but every day is different and full of surprises!

Old Kitty said...

Awwwww Dangerous with a Pen! Yay for that sweet little boy so determined to tie his shoe! What a wonderful achievement for him and a proud moment for you!!

And I love the thought of you writing so that your children may know you as profoundly as possible - that's the greatest gift for them.

The only way I'm able to communicate effectively with my family is through the written word - I can write pages and pages of letters/emails to them but verbally I clam up!

Guess that's why I write. I find expressing myself in words easier and more fulfilling than any other form. :-)

Have a lovely weekend! Take care

Misha said...

Loved this post.

I think that writing for your children is a wonderful thing to do. Writer's put their souls on every page they write. One day your children will be able to see it. It's a wonderful thought.

I also write for release. My soul would be torn into little bits by my Studies if I didn't have writing to keep it all glued togaether.

I write to publish. Not for the money or the recognition, but because my time spent writing my novels would feel wasted if I didn't think they had anywhere to go...

Have a great weekend!


Andrea Mack said...

Great post! I teach kindergarten, and I love that look and excitement kids have when they've discovered something new.

Mostly, I write because I enjoy it. I'm fairly good at it (not to say there isn't lots of room for improvement) and I love the process of working out the story.

I write for my own kids - they are always my ideal readers (though they are tough critics and hard to please).

And I do write to be published. It's my dream, my goal. I'd love to be known as an author.

Jemi Fraser said...

I write because I enjoy it - it's fun! :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I say the same thing, that I write so that generations of my family to come will have something of me to hold in their hands, through which they will "know me."

I love the story of the kid who tied his shoe. Teachers are our society heroes. Thanks for all you do for those little ones!!

Jo Schaffer said...

I write beause I love it. And it opens my brain. (=

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Thanks, guys! It's fun to hear what pushes everyone to do what you do!

aspiring_x said...

first of all- what a cute little boy! (i love when my sons get that look!)

second- i hear you about needing a time to be an adult. i love spending the days with my sons, and it's kinda peaceful at my job- but the conversations there- it's not the stuff that is really interesting. getting to write about what interests me- a maybe share it someday with others who would be interested- there's just something so fun about that.

also, like old kitty, i have trouble verbalizing what i mean to say. i get blocked- sometimes stutter- but often the words just won't make it to my mouth. they find their way much better to the keyboard. weird but true! :)

i love the thought of letting your kids know you better... i never ever thought of it that way. :)