After hearing Post Secrets mentioned on NPR, I bought a copy a couple of years ago. The book resulted from a project in which the author asked people to share their untold secrets anonymously, sending them in, artistically represented, on postcards. The results range from hilarious to heartbreaking--a teenager confesses to trashing his house while his parents are away, so they'll think he has friends, a woman confesses that despite her abhorrence of his actions, she finds Hitler sexy. My favorite--or at least the one I find particularly painful--was sent in, written over an IRS form. It said something like this: Money earned teaching creative writing: $41,232.08. Money earned doing creative writing: $0.
This past month at the state English conference, I took part in a session we called "Teachers as Writers." We talked about what keeps up from writing, and then we discussed outlets for teachers who had a desire to write and something to say. This was the third time in about eight years I've presented some version of this session with my friend Jane Shlensky. I want to report that I have done my best not to be a hypocrite. I have worked to increase my writing output, quantity and quality.
To that end, I accepted the National Novel Writing Month challenge and have begun my quest to write 50,000 words in November. Yesterday, I received an email from the NaNoWriMo.org site, asking for over 50-ers to volunteer to be interviewed. Why not, I thought. I shot a quick email and heard back before my school day was up. Now I have between now and Wednesday, November 5, to figure out how to listen to a podcast. One of the main reasons I signed up for the project and went out of the limb for the mini-interview was to commit myself publicly to the endeavor.
I remember how, when Bill Bryson decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, a venture that resulted in his delightful book A Walk in the Woods, he informed all his Christmas card recipients of his plan. No backing out without shame or a very good excuse.
In November, I can probably come up with a few excuses. I leave Friday for Washington, DC, with my Holocaust class group. Debating whether or not to carry my laptop along, I emailed our hotel and found that they provide free wireless internet--and a business center with computers.
(They also have hairdryers available at the desk, also important in lower the weight of my luggage.)
Two weeks later, I'll be flying to San Antonio for the NCTE conference. I'll be dangerously close to the deadline, but I know I'll have internet there. I'll just have to be sure to make time to write.
Now that I have found a way to schedule my writing, I just have to decide one more thing: Do I need to take my mandolin along on both trips?