Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quote of the Day: On Learning

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."
--Thomas Edison

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Procrastination Aid: Writing Style Analyzer

I'm having a lot of fun playing with this particular procrastination aid. All of the following were results for various samples of the blog writing right here on Quotidian Light.

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
George Orwell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Douglas Adams

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
J. K. Rowling

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Arthur C. Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Just for giggles, here's the last one I'm posting tonight, although tomorrow I'll probably try running some of my poetry through. First, let me post the text I entered:

"Once upon a time there was a little bunny rabbit who ran out in the road and got squashed. The End.

Once upon a time there lived a tiny flea, and when time fell back because of Daylight Savings time the flea fell into the void. The End."

Now, the result:

I write like
Margaret Atwood

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writer's Meme

Call it inspiration, call it guilt, but the end result is the same. I've not been writing much of late, so when I read this meme at Stick Poet Super Hero, I knew right away I'd have to try it.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? - A comment on my husband's Facebook status.

2. Is it any good? - Of course.

3. What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have? – Written down? A long poem chronicling how my siblings and cousins and I were sent to my grandparents' basement every year at Christmas while our parents had a business meeting upstairs with all the food. There are a couple of earlier pieces that I still have memorized, however (poems...of a sort), and my mother has numerous bits of things I scribbled in school.

4. Favorite genre of writing? - Poetry or creative nonfiction. I do more of the former but have been told I'm better at the latter. Both scare me.

5. How often do you get writer's block? - I live in writer's block.

6. How do you fix it? – I don't. I withdraw from it and from writing, more often than not.

7. Do you save everything you write? – I save most of it, yes, since college. I did burn 6 years worth of journals--the first 6 years I kept them. Since then, I have almost everything, and my desk looks like it, too.

8. How do you feel about revision? - Absolutely 100% necessary. I don't trust writers who say they don't revise. Rather, I trust that their writing is probably horrible. I've heard too many people get up in church to read their "straight from the Lord" poems to NOT cringe when someone tells me they never revise.

9. What's your favorite thing that you've written? -- Probably the poems "Night Augur" or "A Second Birthing" or one I'm still revising: "Winter Seduction". Possibly an essay parody of Walden, if you want to talk prose.

10. What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written? -- This seems to be "Mania," oddly enough.

11. What writing projects are you working on right now?--Theoretically lesson plans. (Ho!) I've got snippets from a fiction piece inspired by my brother that I've been adding to for a few years. There's a CNF essay that I would really like to see where it goes, and "Winter Seduction," which I'm about ready to give in and start sending off. My journal would probably fall under this category, too, since it's a perpetual project of sorts.

12. What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will? - I would be quick to say horror, save that one of my poems was actually nominated for inclusion in a "year's best" horror anthology awhile back, to my surprise, and that Great Scott tells me he finds many of my poems pretty horrifying. Romance is probably the genre I would be least likely to write (as well as being the genre I'm least likely to read). I don't think I would be any good at writing science fiction, either, although I'm a sci-fi fan (Down with the Alliance! Browncoats forever!).

Friday, May 28, 2010

What I Deserve


Setting: Home after a very rough day, hugging The Daughters gratefully.

Me: You are the best daughters in the whole world! I have done nothing in my life to deserve such great girls!

The Older Daughter: We know. That's why God made you a teacher.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Closing out Year Two

School is out for the summer. Scores for the state End of Course (EOC) exams are in, and my grades are finalized and posted. I have turned in tutoring logs, professional development hours and inventory. My room has been straightened and labeled and locked.

It has been a year.

When I checked out today, my principle told me that she was very glad I had stayed, had come back a second year. It was a small thing to have said, but it meant a great deal to me.

The first year was rough, now that I look back on it. Staying until midnight wasn't uncommon. Staying until 3 a.m. happened more than once. It was the first year of our state's EOC exams. I had to prep for 5 different classes a day (7 different classes for the year, all told), I had 50 extra hours of eMINTS training to complete, and I was sponsoring or helping to sponsor 3 different extracurricular groups plus the freshman class. Being hired two weeks before school began (with only that much warning) and being totally unfamiliar with the curricular materials was another factor, although this one was "helped" since I was also assigned to be on the team to write our school's curriculum right away, as well. One of my fellow communication arts teachers (who is one of my own former teachers) told me last year, "I don't know how you're doing it; anybody else would have quit at semester."

I had forgotten all this, much in the same way that the details of childbirth are often smudged in a mother's mind, I suspect. So when my principle told me today that she was glad I had come back, I stared at her blankly for a moment. Why in the world wouldn't I have come back, I wondered.

Human beings are remarkable. We often have no idea of what we can accomplish until we have done more than we ever imagined we could. I despise being pushed--more than I could possibly convey to you without physical violence and perhaps regurgitation. In fact, I will NOT be pushed by anyone...but myself.

This summer I hope to write a lot of lesson plans down and create some new ones. This last year I had 80 students, all told. Next year I will have a little over 100. Next year I will push hard again, but for now I'm going to sit for a bit and reflect on the two years behind me.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Quote: On Meaning and Escape

"For the true writer...there is some distance, some remove, that allows for the shaping of the work...Every reader can sense the difference between a writer who embodies meaning through the events he describes and the writer who seems simply mired in those events. It is that struggle for meaning that lets the writer escape the tyranny of what really happened..."

---Sue Miller

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thirteen Things I Need to Remember When My Students Drive Me Crazy

1. Some of my students didn't sleep last night.

2. Some of them haven't eaten anything since yesterday's school lunch.

3. Some of them are trying to find the right balance of anti-depressants and/or anti-psychotic meds.

4. Some of them are seniors and are beginning to feel a bit crazy about getting to leave school and having to leave school, and they can't decide whether they love or hate these things.

5. Being cooped up in a computer lab when it's 80 degrees and sunny outside isn't anyone's idea of fun.

6. Some of these kids know a whole lot more about livestock and motors than I could ever dream of knowing.

7. Some of them are taking care of mentally ill parents at home and may not get to class on time because they had to wait for the ambulance...again.

8. Some of them are so smart that they're bored out of their minds and coming up with trouble to keep themselves entertained.

9. Some of them look scroungy because they had to get younger brothers and sisters ready for school this morning, and they put little sister's hair in ponytails instead of brushing their own before catching the bus.

10. Some of them laugh and joke because they're afraid of anyone figuring out that they care very much that they're failing, and they're covering up.

11. Not all of them HAVE to like me or like my class.

12. I can love them, anyway.

13. Crazy isn't such a bad state of mind if you're in far enough.

NaPoWriMo 2010 Begins!

I have a horrible track record when it comes to any kind of regular writing, and teaching school the past two years has only exacerbated the situation. Nevertheless, better to try than not to try. At least, that's the line I feed my students. I don't have time for revision, however--at least not now. You'll have to settle for rough drafts splattered down on the page.

Let the scrawls begin!


Fat buds wing into full bloom and float
in arcs above my monitor. Students drop
their shove and scuffle, stoop to touch trembling
petals, one slow finger at a time. I've watered them
for months, watched them stretch
new growth and now, although their roots
still tangle, gnarled amid dead wood
and sphagnum, they are opening
along their lengths, lifting
fragile faces toward the light.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Few Minor Changes

I am making a few minor changes to Quotidian Light for the purposes of preserving privacy. I do not think any of my students are interested enough to go looking for me online, but on the off chance that they might become so, I am changing my username and profile picture. Most of my readers know me well enough to not be phased in the least by this. I love you for it.

Perhaps with this added layer of semi-anonymity, blog entries will happen more often. I'm hoping so. I miss the writing and reflection that blogging provided for so long.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who IS This Person?

Tonight I have been sitting here updating my resumé to include in an application to the Ozark Writing Project's Summer Invitational Institute. When I finished saving the updated file, I raided Great Scott's desk for suitable paper--the really nice stuff--and printed out my creation.

It frightens me. It looks so official and...impressive. Who is this person, and what in the world am I doing impersonating her?!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Language and Listening

For my birthday this year, Great Scott gave me The Best American Essays 2009, which was edited by Mary Oliver. The language in the chosen essays of this volume seems to me richer than that of most contemporary essays. Many of Oliver's choices echo the style of some of her own favorite writers, Victorians such as Emerson and Whitman, whose writing require readers to slow down and immerse themselves deeply in the flow of words rather than skimming merrily over the top of them. The Younger Daughter and I have been reading George MacDonald's Phantastes on weekend mornings and snow days, and here, too, I've been struck by the richness of the words and wording of the Victorians. My students--most of them--would never be able to follow sentences like these, sentences which wind and curl like vines up pillars or large-trunked trees, sprouting side branches and arabesque tendrils before finally growing into comprehensive maturity and blooming gloriously into full, many-petaled meaning.

As I was reading to The Younger Daughter earlier this week, I began wondering if she might be better prepared to read and comprehend such sentences on her own for having heard them read aloud by someone else. The human mind is a great recognizer of patterns. If, when it begins a complex task, it has some basic patterns in place, basic patterns that will aid in the comprehension and execution of the complex task at hand, that task will be accomplished much more easily and with better results. My students have all acquired the skill, the pattern knowledge, of word-calling; however many to most of the students in my classes have not developed an ear for written language. They don't hear the words in their heads as they read. The rhythms and melodies of the written word blow past them like so many dry, leaves; inflection and the subtle meaning it carries is lost. I wish all children were read to aloud. Written words are symbols for our quickened breath passing between tongue and tooth, for living human spirit shaped into transmissible entities leaving our lips. Expecting a child to read well without her having experienced the breath of life blown across the pages of books and into her waiting ear is like handing her a bird from the taxidermist and requiring her to comprehend and demonstrate flight.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another Year

I am still writing "2009" on checks and attendance slips.

Last Friday on my birthday an old friend and fellow Douglas Adams reader reminded me that I am now the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Age-specific ads at the side of my Facebook page tell me that forty-two year-old women wear Ug boots, buy iPads, and publish their own poetry. My students ask if I rode the pterodactyl to school or took the mammoth. Outside stars billions of years old burn so fiercely that their light still reaches us, and the patient moon grows old and young again. Why should I fear?