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?