Teachers Write – A Letter to Myself

Teachers Write officially ended yesterday (Friday). As you can tell from my blog posts, I wasn’t as active at the end as I was in the beginning, though I did still read each post. All in all, I do feel it was a worth-while experience and I learned things through it, about myself as a writer and about writing in general. I’m excited to find ways to share it with my school site, teachers and students both.

The last prompt from Kate was to write a letter to ourselves before we started this four-week journey. Below is mine…

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Dear Stephanie,

You are about to embark on a scary journey – sharing your writing for the first time with the world. Sure you’ve shared it to a few people, but now you will share small paragraphs for anyone on the internet to see.

I know, it seems scary. You’re wondering if people will listen to what you have to say. You are wondering how supportive people will be. You are wondering if what you have to those jumbled letters on paper are even worth sharing.

Let me assure you that yes, people do want to hear what you have to say. And this group is the perfect group to begin sharing with, as they are just as scared as you. And because it’s a community of educators, they understand that people learn by making mistakes. And yes, people are curious how you make jumbled letters into something worth reading.

You may not participate in all the prompts. You may not even get far in your own story during this time frame. But I will promise you that at the end, you will feel as though you made some progress and learned something, and yes, you will want to do it again.

You will fall even more in love with writing and will start planning on how to share what you’ve read and learned from the various authors, both with the students at your school as well as the teachers.

So get ready … and WRITE!

Stephanie

Teachers Write 7.21

So, if you happen to follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, then you might remember I had mentioned completing a story (this is the picture that was shared at the time if you need a memory jog)…

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So, it’s not a published story, though I did share it in whole with a friend and invited a few others to read some of my stories stored on google docs (don’t know if they have, but that’s okay).

Anyways… as recent posts on here suggest, I joined a writing group for the summer called Teachers Write. It seemed like another good opportunity outside of NaNoWriMo to gain writing tips and insights from published authors in the age group that I work with.

One of my goals as part of Teachers Write is to break from my silent shell and share my writing.

Today there were two blog posts to TW participants. In one, author Erica Perl shared why we should read our writing out-loud, even if its not a picture book. I liked her suggestion and may find a snugly kitty to read to one of these days.

On the other post, Gae Polisner allows readers to share their writing and possibly receive some feedback (from her editor of all people today). Below you actually get to read part of that story I finished above. Admittedly it could use some more polishing up, but it is my most complete story thus far, and probably the one I would strive to get published at this point, should I ever choose to go that route. (No, I’m not planning on being published, though it has crossed my mind to post on a website that lets people share short-stories.)

Without further ado, the start of the first chapter …


It was a bright August day, and Olivia was at the mall shopping for new swimwear, beach wear, and any other summer clothing she could think of, as well as a few nice evening gowns. Sure she probably had enough already in her closet, but this trip coming up practically begged for a new wardrobe, and Olivia never turned down a chance to go shopping for new clothes.

“Good enough for now,” Olivia told herself after her fifth store, her arms loaded with bags.

After a quick stop at the local coffee shop for a double latte, Olivia made her way to the car and headed home. After unloading the car, Olivia sat at her computer and browsed the trip’s itinerary, double checking her lists to make sure she wasn’t missing anything. She then finished her last load of laundry and finished packing her bags as she was leaving in the morning for Miami.

The last load in the dryer, Olivia made a quick bowl of pasta and sat in front of the TV to relax a bit when her phone rang. Checking the caller id, Olivia answered the call.

“Oh my god, I am so excited for this trip!” she told Nick.

“I know! It’s been forever since I’ve seen you.”

Teachers Write 7.20

The prompt for today was to write a scene that takes place in a waiting room. Here is a peek into a scene from my life, a scene that already happened and is set to happen in the future I’m sure, as I’m due for some more work on my mouth…

I walked into the office and headed straight for the desk.

“Hello there,” the receptionist greets me. “Have a seat. They’re getting ready for you.”

I turned and sat in one of the chairs in the lobby. I grabbed a magazine and tried to clear my mind. I have a fear of shots, and was about to let someone drill in my mouth to take a tooth out. It was like my fear was moving from the outside where I could see it happening, to inside.

I put the magazine down and my leg starts bouncing, my mind racing. I turn to look at my husband next to me and take his hand, hoping he’ll help put my mind at ease, but it doesn’t help as the anxiousness of being in that lobby are reading on his face as well. I know he’s there only because they were going to numb me and we weren’t sure if I will be able to drive afterwards.

I take deep breaths. I can feel my anxiety rising. Hubby reaches over and starts rubbing my back, trying to help calm me down.

“Stephanie,” the receptionist calls out.

I take a deep breath as I rise from my seat, following her to the back and have a seat in the dentist’s chair, gripping the handles in anticipation for the procedure to come…

Teachers Write 7.18

So, posting my writing snippets the day after the past two days it seems. Sorry, that’s partly what happens when I post to the blog post at 10:30p as I’m crawling into bed, only then realizing I’ve been thinking about it all day but never actually posted anything.

Anyways, here is your post in response to Tuesday’s Quick Write. The author Loree Griffin Burns shared how she gets in the moment to help her writing out (for example, when writing about bees, she actually visited a bee hive.

Our task for the day was to put ourselves in a scenario, then describe it to you, the reader. My husband and I went for a bike ride (our longest to date, but not for long as I am already planning another one that has been on my radar the past year or two). Below you have a snippet into my brain the last mile of our ride …


“Yes, half a mile left,” I call to my husband behind me. I am so ready for this ride to be over. I raise my self slightly on my right peddle, giving my sore, almost tingling rear a break. Oh, not much of one as there’s another hill. “Come on, you can do it,” I tell myself, giving myself a pep talk as my legs struggle to climb the hill. I turn the knob on my gear shift. Click. The gears shift, giving my legs a slight reprieve that final hill, then it’s smooth sailing on flat land the rest of the way. Finally we make it back to the car. “Oh,” I groan as I slowly slide off my seat, my feet touching the pavement. Boy can I feel those 29 miles we just biked.

Teachers Write 7.17

Over on Jo’s blog for Monday, she talked on the topic of character development and asked us to complete these sentences. I actually have a new story forming in my head that hasn’t actually been started, so I’m going to use that character in these sentences, as it will help me learn about her more before I start writing… (my answers are underlined).

I wish Kylie could just break through the demands and be free.

Kylie have never told anyone this, but she’d love to quit her day job and be a cheerleader for a professional sports team.

If Kylie had the guts to tell Mr. Taylor that she wanted to stop, I just know that he’d be disappointed, but would ultimately end their deal.

The only one who really understands Kylie is her best friend Harriet and that’s because she was the one that got Kylie her night job.

Teachers Write 7.13

Today we had the guest author Hena Khan and we were asked to think about our name if we could go back to before our birth and change it, and to create a mini-biography with our new name.

Current name

In regards to my own name, I think I’ve always secretly wished I could change it, but at the same time enjoyed it at the same time. I think the reason I wanted to change it was because there was at least one other Stephanie in most of my classes, so I was never sure which one the teacher was calling on. I remember back in high school I knew at least four other Stephanie’s, and a few Stephan’s, and we had decided one day at lunch that we were going to take over the world and only Stephanie’s and Stephan’s would be allowed to live. Honestly, if I changed it, it would probably be the spelling, to make it more unique.

New name

For the purpose of this writing prompt, I chose another name in my head that I would have changed my name to … “Lanetta”. The reason is that when my parents first found they were pregnant, they were told they were having twins. I’m not sure the names if they were boys, but if they were girls, the names they picked were “Lanetta Marie” and “Janetta Nicole”. (Now, I don’t know if that’s how the names actually played out or if the middle names were switched, but it’s what my memory is telling me.) Unfortunately she miscarried, so it’s just me. So this my brief summary of “Lanetta”, imagined as if I was a twin …

Think you’re seeing double? Then you’re probably right, cause I’m a twin! My name is Lanetta and I’m the oldest (okay, it’s only by a few minutes, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?). Now, my twin and I may look alike at first glance, but we’ve gotten out of that ‘dress-alike’ stage back in elementary, so it’s a little easier to tell us apart now. Oh, and our personality is totally different. I’m the more out-spoken, friendly one, while my sister is the quiet, shy one. Maybe it’s cause I was born first I felt the need to take charge. Oh, and that whole twin-telepathy thing people always ask about? Yeah, we so have it. I always get a six-sense when my sister is feeling down. Of course, it may be because we spend so much time together. Yeah, it may be because we grew up together, but I think that only helped strengthen our bond. It’s like the saying the girls have on that Disney show “Liv and Maddie” – Sisters by chance, friends by choice.

Teachers Write 7.10 & 7.11

This summer I decided to participate in Teachers Write. It’s hosted by authors Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles, blogger/educator Jen Vincent, and guest authors popping in from time to time. I joined because its designed for teachers, librarians, and other folks who work with kids who also like to write and want to learn to improve their writing.

I’ve recently (within the last few years) picked up writing, including participating in NaNoWriMo a few times (though I’ve never written a novel-length during it). I’ve completed one novel-size story officially (don’t bother looking for it in stores though as I’m not planning on publishing at this point); the rest falls under the short-story category in length.

Anyways, up to this point there’s only been one person who’s really read my writing. But as Gae and Nora Raleigh Baskin pointed out in their joint blog post last Friday, the process of writing is not complete until someone reads it.

Hmm. Makes sense. So, with that statement, I’ve decided that as a first time Teachers Write participant, I was going right off the deep end and was going to participate full-on. That means sharing my writing from the beginning. And to be honest, it’s a scary idea, not knowing how people are going to respond. But here I am, sharing another part of my life and soul with the world. Just one request – please don’t hurt it too bad.

So, the plan is to share my small bits of writing that correspond with the various lessons. Ideally I’d be doing this daily, but being realistic, I will at least shoot for once a week. Feel free to let me know what you think and some constructive criticisms that can help improve my writing or the scene.

For starters, you have my small blurbs from Monday and Tuesday… Enjoy!


Mini-Lesson Monday: Another View of the World:

Taylor stepped outside the building she had been in for the last several hours and closed her eyes, taking in the smell and sounds around her; the salty air of the ocean blowing against her face, the horn of a nearby ship getting ready to take sail, the cry of a young child who was too scared to board the large ship, the seagulls trying to find scraps for food among the crowds, the hot humidity of a Florida summer day against her skin. She opened her eyes and brought her camera up to capture the huge boat in front of her, her home for the next several days.


Tuesday Quick-Write with Phil Bildner:

Two different perspectives —

“Only one row left of classrooms to clean. Good thing the kids will be gone Thursday. Man, I hope those two girls won’t come sneaking around and ask their questions and just let me do my job,” the custodian thought as he started to clean the first classroom of the day.

“It’s f-ing summer. Why do I have to be at school?” Angelique thought as she walked down the street. “Who cares if I learn to read? I don’t even like reading. Seriously? They make us go to school during the school year and then take away our summer too? God! I just want to be in bed.” When she got to the bus stop, she pulled her phone from her back pocket and scrolled through facebook until the bus pulled up. The bus hissed as it came to a stop and when the doors opened, Angelique climbed on taking a quick scan of the kids on board, chose to sit next to Nataly.

“So, you think Juan’s going to show up?” Nataly asked as Angelique sat next to her.

“Don’t know. He sent me a snapchat last night,” Angelique replied, pulling the app up on her phone to show her the pic of him with the dog filter. The girls laughed at the sight before lifting the phone in front of them for a selfie.