#SOLSC21: Summing it up in 5

I remember the obligatory third grade paper “What I want to be when I grow up”copied carefully in red ink on manilla tablet paper so that my teacher could not bleed red ink corrections on my pristine paper that was reverently stored in the family Bible for posterity.

Writing was something assigned only in English classes after months of grammar drills and diagramming sentences until we were allowed to take a course entitled Creative Writing in high school and then I doodled my way through poetry and bits and pieces of plagarized phrases and lines of writing that caught my attention and my ear.

College took so much out of my writing spirit as I was spoon fed through the expectations of my first humanities paper, “The Role of Imagery in ‘The Sounds of Silence'” to the published graduate school thesis chock full of charts at the paid typing rate of $2.00 per page (before computers) and the fear that allowing anything to bleed into the required one inch margins or the template frame laid over random pages would cause it to be rejected and the degree denied.

As a teacher, I took a writing course and discovered the “Six Traits”, taught them, and assessed them for decades before a writing workshop institute where Colleen told me I could write and others heard my writing so I began to blog in order to share a small part of myself as a writing teacher/coach with friends far and near, including the TWT community and the Slice of Life.

As a writer, I have hundreds of blog posts, thousands of tweets and scribbles here, there and everywhere on post its, notebooks, and computer files galore as I collect words, phrases, lines of writing, and pictures of what I would like to imitate in writing as I continue to write daily and publish occasionally.

What is your history of your writing life? Can you summarize it in 5 sentences?

Today’s format was inspired by Julieanne Harmatz here and Multifaceted MusingsIt’s Elementary, and Elisabeth Ellington at The Dirigible Plum. It was also, without a doubt, my most revised piece of writing thus far this month!


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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28 responses

  1. First of all, I like this concept, both for myself and to share with students. I hope that the ones whose writing lives I have any impact on at all would write different sentences than yours because…
    Second, I am sad at the beginnings of your writing history. Your honesty is important for people to read, though, because it’s easy to see the trauma that red pens and strict margins caused to someone with a will to write. I’m glad that Colleen came along and nurtured that! Many of your posts and tweets have had lasting impacts!

    1. Thank you, Melanie. Inadvertent trauma is still trauma! Words have power and the old red “Awk” was so discouraging.

  2. This is a genius idea. I want to share it with everyone. I definitely am going to spend some time thinking about my own writing. One thing is for sure, this writing community has changed everything about how I view myself as a writer. I was a writing teacher long before I was a writer. That makes me a little sad.

    1. Truly genius, Susan! I agree. I am sure that I have forgotten more stories than I will ever write, but better late to the “being a writer” than the alternative… never! 🙂

  3. I love this idea of writing 5 sentences! Your post really made me stop and think. Although I do remember diagramming sentences and an awful dictionary workbook my 4th grade teacher made us use daily, my third grade teacher let us make blank books about any story we wanted to create. I made mine about a dinosaur and although I don’t remember the problem or solution, remember the feeling of excitement of getting to choose what I wrote about. I like how Colleen made a difference for you and your writing!

    1. Wow! Blank books would have been amazing but I would have probably feared the blank pages as we weren’t encouraged to step outside the box! Interesting that you remember a specific teacher as well!

  4. I love this concept, Fran! I’m writing letters all month, but this will be going in my personal notebook as a mentor text for myself and my gradate students. Thank you! I experienced something similar in college and strive to be the person who reminds teachers-to-be what it really means to have a writing life.

    1. Stephanie,
      So critical for teachers to know that writing is not an assignment. I can’t wait to see what your five sentences look like!

  5. Thank goodness for Colleen and others who told you that you could write. I try to be so mindful every day of being like Colleen in the classroom and not like the countless teachers that I, too, had in college who “took so much out of my writing spirit”. My 5 sentences piece was also by far my most revised piece of writing this month too. It’s challenging to write those lengthy sentences crammed with so much story!

    1. Oh, Elizabeth. Each sentence is a story in itself. Thanks for your inspiration.

  6. So glad you are a writer- your words so often inspire me. You sure got good mileage from long sentences- I learned a lot.

    1. Erika,
      More words today in 5 sentences than often in my whole post during March slicing.
      I love that I have met you through writing as well and know so much more about your international teaching AND life as well!

  7. As always a brilliant idea and new structures to try! I am so glad you blog … how would I have ever met you? It would take me some time to try this … I don’t think I have ever really thought about it before.

    1. Clare,
      It feels like I have always known you! And yes to blogging and then meeting IRL!

  8. You capture the history of writing so many of us went through so well. For me, I remember diagramming and rarely practicing real writng to get better. For me, it was Mary at TCRWP who taught me first that I am a writer. So glad I met you there and on twitter and here. Writers need a community and that idea comes through loud and clear across your 5 sentences!

    1. Sally,
      Thanks for being part of my community and yes, Mary is definitely another big factor for writing support. Love that we met in multiple locations!

  9. I enjoy blogging, it is fun to write and share them. I like reading the blogs of others, sitting at home I get see a little about life in other parts of the world.

  10. I’m so glad you tried this too. Your post is a testament to the importance of how we teach writing. It is a testament to you the learner! I also appreciate your reflection on revision! A perfect post for that work.

    1. You and .Margaret were two of my first mentors. Your honesty. Your ability to tell such poignant and memorable stories. And your unswerving faith in your students!

      1. Writing is a journey and it is good to have friends along the way. Honored to be with you on the path.

  11. This is a great way to think about and evaluate what shapes us as writers, where we began, how we grew and where we are today.

  12. I love this idea of capturing your writing journey/identity in five sentences. I have attempted an autobiographical sketch and timeline of my life as a reader and as a writer. I loved reading about your experiences – good and bad – and how they have shaped your writing life.

  13. it is interesting to see how your writing path twisted. I want to experiment with this structure a bit more. For now, I can summarise my writing life in two sentences: School taught me to believe that I wasn’t a writer. Blogging in SOLSC community changed my belief.

    1. Yes, so expand 1 or 2 specifics from school and then how you felt that first time you finished slicing for a month!

      You can do this!

      1. Thank you for your helpful advice.

  14. “the fear that allowing anything to bleed into the required one inch margins or the template frame laid over random pages would cause it to be rejected and the degree denied.”

    HOW could I possibly have forgotten the tremendous fear of those one inch margins???!
    I absolutely love your last sentence- it’s excellent. Thank you for sharing your five sentences! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Britt.

      So many ways that writing can be stopped

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