The famous Mists of Avalon author, Marion Zimmerman Bradley, once said that the secret of writing was to “put the seat of your pants in the seat of your chair.” Boy, was she right. Once I actually began to do that, I’m finding that I can’t seem to get up from that ‘chair!’
Just a couple of months ago, I told a few friends that my dream in life had always been to ‘be a writer.’ At least one of them suggested I start a blog. No way. Not for me. Never in a million years. That vision of mine had been to write stories for students at the middle school level, the age level to which I had loved teaching history for many years and also an age level to which my husband swears I belong. (Let’s not even go there right now…)
Those wondrous accounts that I planned to write would be based on the historical research I had completed as a family researcher and historian. I planned to weave the lives of my own family into tales that would spark an interest in history for those students. So far, that hasn’t happened; I started a blog instead. At first, I only started a genealogy blog, but I soon realized that there was so much more that I wanted to say.
I really have no idea why I started this particular blog. Although I’m ‘officially’ retired, I still work two days a week at the same school where I served for years as the Middle School Coordinator. (Don’t even ask what that is; I’m pretty sure that it’s the person who does everything that nobody else wants to do.) But seriously, I gladly left years of teaching history for that position, mainly because it involved writing. Yep, that’s right. For the last fifteen or so years, I’ve spent most of that time writing: school improvement plans; curriculum plans; hundreds of letters to parents; letters written for others, allowing them to sign their names instead of mine; articles of public relations that would showcase our school in the best possible light; taking notes for meetings and writing them up for administrative purposes; and the list goes on and on.
I never thought much about it. It was just something I did. I didn’t even get too upset when an article I wrote publicizing our school’s championship basketball team appeared in our local newspaper. I had submitted it to the paper’s educational coordinator, and she published it – under her own byline! However, when more instances like that occurred, I did begin to get a little miffed. I did my best to make sure that it didn’t happen again. Hey…that’s my work!
I left all of that behind when I retired. At least I thought I had. Most of the work I’m doing now in my two-day-a-week stint does indeed involve writing. But again, I’ve just done my job and haven’t thought much about it. Several times already this year, people have come to me to help them write things, for instance letters of reference, etc. The other day, I was helping a lady come up with phrases to use in her letter of application for a prestigious position when it suddenly dawned on me: I’m not only pretty good at this writing stuff, I also love it! It was like a light bulb going off in my head. I need to write…and I need to do it right now! So I started my genealogy blog, and now I’ve flowed over to this one. (Maybe those historical stories for middle school children will come later.)
Obviously, I had forgotten the lesson I learned years ago during a “Writing Across the Curriculum” course I once took. Our wonderful teacher taught us that if you pick up a pen or pencil, or if you sit at your computer and write – you are a writer. That was a concept I had spent years trying to teach my students and had forgotten myself. That inspirational teacher would begin each session by saying, “I’m going to write now. Will you join me?” And we would spend those first few minutes each morning just writing. It was an awesome experience, one that I used often in my history classes. Yes, I taught writing in history. I used to say to my students, “Just think of that blank piece of paper as your mind. You all have thoughts, so just put your thoughts down on that blank piece of paper.” That strategy actually worked, especially when I would begin writing myself and say to them, “Will you join me?”
I think I know that I’m a writer now. In fact I can’t seem to stop. Since starting my blogs my mind has just overflowed with ideas that I’ve had to get written down – and quickly. A few times I’ve wanted to yell out, “Will somebody stop me?” But no, so far that hasn’t happened. I know that the ideas will slow down, but I also know that I’m going to continue to write in one form or another. I can’t seem to get the seat of my pants out of that chair!
I’m going to write some more now. Will you join me?