SOL 17: Slicing Our Lives

                               11454297503_e27946e4ff_h        slide11

This post is also part of “DigiLit Sunday,” hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week’s topic is Slicing Our Lives. Please be sure to visit Margaret’s blog to read more Digilit Sunday contributions.

“…trust me, I’m going to take you somewhere…”
~ Colum McCann ~

I love listening to writers talk about the origins of a story or poem. So often one random, ordinary moment becomes a magical trail through time and space that leads to a breathtaking piece of writing. For some reason, these recollections reassure me. Maybe it’s because my life seems so very boring and ordinary they give me hope that, if I pay close attention, I do have things to write about.

The harder task is finding the bigger truth in the small moment. In her speech accepting the Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo explains that writers “have been given the sacred task of making hearts large through story.” No pressure, right?

These thoughts were swirling through my mind this morning as my husband and I headed to a local diner for our weekly breakfast ritual. Sunday mornings are always busy and we usually have to a wait for a booth. Everyone waits patiently, striking up conversations with strangers about how cold it is or the UConn girls basketball team’s latest win. When we’re shown to our seat, I always face the door so I can continue to people watch. It’s a diverse crowd, with people from all walks of life sitting side by side, eating a meal.

Last week I watched an extended family celebrate a little boy’s birthday. His dad was a big, gruff looking guy, but I marveled at how tender and caring he was with his son. Today, a mom and dad talked and colored with their two small children while they waited for their pancakes. The scene seemed perfectly ordinary. And yet here were two parents, probably juggling many of life’s demands, spending time with their children, paying attention to them, and letting them know through their actions how much they care about them.

When writers sit down before a blank page or screen, we hardly ever know what insights will be uncovered. Maybe there won’t be any. That’s the beauty of writing. We’ll never find those truths if we don’t look for them. And so we return to the challenge each day. Seeking the right word. Searching for the perfect phrase or sentence, we lay down our thoughts. Like a chef choosing the perfect ingredients for a recipe, we strive to shape our thinking into something worthy and nourishing. It’s our way of telling our readers how much we care about them.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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12 thoughts on “SOL 17: Slicing Our Lives

  1. SO true…I reread old slices and marvel at my own “truths” and of all the details had forgotten….we write because we remember and we discover as we connect thoughts and words…PS I’m smiling about the tender big guy at the diner…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love these lines: “When writers sit down before a blank page or screen, we hardly ever know what insights will be uncovered. Maybe there won’t be any. That’s the beauty of writing. We’ll never find those truths if we don’t look for them.” So true… but then when it hits it almost writes itself. It really is an amazing process. Thank you for giving me a chance to slow down and think about the process.
    Happy Slicing!
    Clare

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “I love listening to writers talk about the origins of a story or poem. So often one random, ordinary moment becomes a magical trail through time and space that leads to a breathtaking piece of writing. For some reason, these recollections reassure me. Maybe it’s because my life seems so very boring and ordinary they give me hope that, if I pay close attention, I do have things to write about.”

    Yes, I love this!! I tried to cut it down but it’s all important. Have you ever listened to The Yarn? It’s a great podcast that gives authors and illustrators a chance to unravel their work! I think you’d enjoy it.

    Like

  4. Hi Catherine – although you noted earlier that you struggled with today’s post – WOW – look at the result. I absolutely loved it. So many favorite lines, but this one hit home – “That’s the beauty of writing. We’ll never find those truths if we don’t look for them.” Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your reflection about what looks normal but maybe isn’t really hit home. How important it is to take the time to sit and enjoy our children, at all ages. Thanks for the reminder. There’s one impact of your writing life for today!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like our children, we tell our readers how much we care about them. That is such a humbling thought. I want to write something worth reading, but as you point out, sometimes I don’t know what will happen until I open the blank page and start. That’s what this challenge is all about!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just love this and totally agree. Yesterday I published something that was just okay, in fact, as I hit the publish button I thought, “Duh, so obvious Michelle.” but then on the 2nd I uncovered something I had no idea was there. Love how you unwrapped all these thoughts about writing in your post and shared it with all of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Catherine,

    You share so much wisdom . . .”When writers sit down before a blank page or screen, we hardly ever know what insights will be uncovered. Maybe there won’t be any. That’s the beauty of writing. We’ll never find those truths if we don’t look for them. And so we return to the challenge each day. Seeking the right word. Searching for the perfect phrase or sentence, we lay down our thoughts.”

    Some days are thoughts are absolutely golden. Other days – not so much! But the effort does count because the writing can ALWAYS be revised and improved!

    Love the kid watching part of your story as well. We don’t always know the back story. We don’t have to. But we can still acknowledge its presence! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love hearing your thoughts, Catherine, so wise about the writing we do in March, “we strive to shape our thinking into something worthy and nourishing.” Perhaps that’s the roadblock at times, the choice. And perhaps that’s the challenge for students, too. I imagine we need to assure them, and ourselves that writing something takes us on a path that might surprise, but that also may please, us and the audience. Thanks for writing today!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I so agree Katherine. It’s what I’ve taken away from my years with the Hudson Valley Writing Project. Writing is discovery. I think it’s tragic that the secret is not out there enough, especially with teachers.
    A beautifully written Slice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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