#SOL17: The Story

The ball swishes through the net as the buzzer sounds.  A sigh of relief as the two points are recorded on the scoreboard.  The basket was a buzzer beater.

Final score 25 to 17.

The last second score was icing on the cake.  Another two points in the book for a seventh grade athlete.  Kids who had been running up and down the court chasing and being chased by the opposing team.

Proud Great Aunt.  My great nephew’s team wins again!

A never-ending third quarter that saw each team make only one basket.  So much energy expanded.  WAIT.  Delete that.  Wrong game. Memory mix up. Wrong details supporting the 8th grade B game. Three different games now in my memory bank.  Time to focus.

Visiting with my sister, my niece, my great niece. Receiving a hand-written note from Autumn. Enjoying the ambiance of a junior high gym, whistles blowing, athletes competing, and fans cheering.

Where do I start?  What is the heart of my story?


I ran through the events in my mind.  I collected ideas without a single keystroke or graphic organizer.  I began to sift the details with mental rehearsal.  Decision made.  The beginning point is the basket that ended the game.

And then doubt sets in . . . And the questioning . . . Do I really want to begin with the end of the game?  The final three seconds?  Then what will be next?

What is the important part of my story? 

The important part is that I write. I write at my keyboard while my coffee is brewing.  Intent on capturing the words that I rehearsed as I hit the snooze alarm.  It’s Tuesday. It’s “Slicer Day”. I need to write a story so I’m rehearsing a story.  Not across my fingers. Not across pages.  But in my head.  Cross-checking the most important facts.

BUT, what about that  note from Autumn?  She’s three.  It’s the first writing she’s given me.  Her name – carefully printed across a small piece of paper.  Written with love. Received with love.

Some days I just HAVE to write!  

The words come pouring out. The screen fills.  Then the doubt and worry arrive.  Delete, fix up, fancy up the piece.  But it all begins with the writing.

How can I teach writing without writing?

How do I understand that there isn’t one perfect prompt?  One perfect process?  One perfect story map?   . . . If I also don’t know the joy, the agony, and the freedom of writing?

Why am I writing?

I want to win the writing game.  I know it takes practice.  I know it takes time.  Writing.  Writing.  Writing. Slicing to continue to improve my narrative writing.  (But while I write I continue to think, to study and reflect on my process. I can’t turn off the teacher side.)

Today.  Flash drafting. Metacognitively reviewing my process. Recording my thinking. And yet sometimes, it’s all about “the doing” – Just writing!

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


17 responses

  1. Writing keeps our senses sharp, our fingers moving, and our craft being honed. This is a good post for me to read in the morning hours, Fran. Have a great day.

    1. Carol,
      Have a fabulous Tuesday! And yes, “Writing keeps our senses sharp, our fingers moving, and our craft being honed.” Love that!

  2. Found words that stick with me.

    “winning the writing game
    metacognitively reviewing
    practice time
    just doing”

    The writing coach in you is showing 🙂

    1. Thanks, Julieanne! Some days are definitely easier than others! So important to see that writing is the fabric of the quilt, not just the individual blocks!

  3. The words that are ringing in my ears right now are: “Recording my thinking. And yet sometimes, it’s all about “the doing” – Just writing!”
    How do we honor this in the classroom? Or do we? We all have days when it is a struggle to get pen to paper. I hope I remember this with all the writers I work with.

    1. I think we have to model how to push through when it’s a struggle. For example, I will set the timer and write for five minutes about this topic. I don’t like the topic. It’s flat. Whatever. I reread my writing in search on one grain, one kernel, one idea (one really strong WHY) and now I write from that idea. I may have to do this 3 or 4 times before I get to my REAL idea. But better now . . . more energy for solid writing!

      If we, the teachers, have experienced it; we can honor and help students with solutions. Telling students to “WRITE” is not a solution (IMO)! ❤

  4. I truly don’t believe there is a wrong place to start writing be it the end, middle, or beginning. Somehow the story always gets told. Granted the starting point might change the focus of the story. I like your thought process in this, Fran. I have had students write the same story from different starting points. It is interesting. The basic story is the same but the retelling changes.

    1. Getting to the point of flexibility is key. “Some writers begin at the beginning. Some writers begin in the middle. Some writers begin at the end. TRY them all. THEN decide which one you like. WHY does it appeal to you?” . . . thinking about how to teach this to students (and teachers)!

  5. I love this writing of the inner dialogue and the struggle to write. Keep going though this was inspiring to me! I’m not the only one with doubts?

    1. It’s so important that we, the teachers, know and understand that writing is just plain hard some days. And then other days, writing may be painful! ❤

  6. You are so right, Fran! “It’s all about ‘the doing.'” Some days it’s harder than others, for us and our students! Thank you for this reminder that there isn’t one perfect anything when it comes to writing. We just have to do it!

    1. Thanks, Catherine. Sometimes about mid-year we need the reminder. We know it but our worry about being past the mid-point of the year AND THERE’S SO MUCH MORE! kicks in . . .just for a minute!!!

  7. I love how you open up your process so we can think along with you – so powerful to do with students as well. I love that you wake up knowing it is a slicer day! Great image for me!

    1. Clare,
      I told myself it was going to be a narrative last night so that literally was my evening . . .EXCEPT I left out that my sister brought me gooseberry pie. So unappreciative of me! (And why sometimes some bullets are important in order to remember the big events!)

      A secondary goal was to take some of the “fear of the unknown away” as I try to encourage more slicers! I’ve only recruited one in the last three years!

      BUT I am working on that as well!

      And you know, “Good Morning, Vietnam” with Robin Williams was infamous. So is “Good Morning, Slicer Day!” at my house! (and Mya just agreed with me!) ❤

  8. I love being able to “see” your thinking. All good for writers to see that other writers have the same thoughts/doubts/internal dialogue, etc!

    1. Thanks, Erika.
      Remembering that there are always other ways to “think” about everything! And yes “thoughts/doubts/internal dialogue” – all are REAL!

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