Have you ever had one of those weeks when you have something going on every single evening? This is one of those weeks for me. I’ve been distracted by all I have to accomplish in the next few days. I’m still am not sure how I’ll manage it all. But I haven’t written a Slice in almost a month, and I didn’t want to let another week slip by without writing.
Then all of a sudden it was after eight o’clock. I’d been tossing around a couple of ideas throughout the day. I’d even started drafting one. But nothing was coming together. As I was cleaning the kitchen, considering my options, I heard snatches of the baseball game from the living room. It sounded like the starting pitcher had walked the first two batters. Not an auspicious way to begin a game.
As a lifelong baseball fan, I know that pitchers sometimes take time to settle into a rhythm and hit their stride. Sometimes their first few pitches are erratic: high, low, outside. Sometimes they don’t recover from these rough starts. They give up too many runs too early, and they are done for the day. But sometimes they settle down a pitch a brilliant game.
I realized that I was having trouble writing my slice because, like that pitcher, I couldn’t settle down. I couldn’t find my writing rhythm.
How often do our students find themselves in this situation? Probably more often than we know. They may have an idea, but aren’t really sure how to find their way into it. Or maybe they can’t choose between a few ideas. Whatever the case, we can establish routines and provide supportive writing environments, but we can never completely prevent a bad writing day. The key is not to give up, and to let our students know we’re not giving up on them. When the manager goes out to the mound to take the ball away, he doesn’t yell and scream. (Although he might later.) He’s calm and nurturing, just as we are when our students are stuck.
And just like that struggling pitcher, we will either settle down and write something, or we’ll put down our pen after only a sentence or two. But we’ll also be back tomorrow, pen in hand, ready to face the page with our best effort.
Thank you to Stacey, Dana, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.