#IWSG – Lost and Found: Words

I know I learned the words lesson much earlier in life, but one particular incident stands out. I was (and still am) a very insecure woman. By the time I was 13 or 14 years old and had never had a boy show interest in me, I turned to my cousin, Lisa, who was a couple of years older than me and always had a boy or two hanging around her, for advice. She told me to stand up straight, look them in the eye, and smile. I’m sure she told me other things, but those are the ones I remember. So, I practiced. I practiced in the grocery store, the mall, at church, and anywhere else there were boys or men.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m at church camp with my family. Now, church camp was a VERY big deal. This was the main place that couples were made and broken. For almost all of us, it was the biggest dating pool we had since we were not allowed to date “unbelievers”, went to a private school, or were homeschooled. We went to church camp three times each summer. Most of us paired up and “dated” for the summer. This basically involved walking around the camp on the circular drive, which takes you past many of the cottages, and sitting together in the cafeteria and church.

One evening, my cousin, Sharla, and I were walking the circle. We were talking and pausing to chat with people we knew who were sitting on the front porch of their cottage. As we were coming abreast of a cottage that had a group of boys and girls our age hanging out, one of the boys yelled, “Hi!” I remembered everything Lisa had said about confidence and replied, “Hello.” The group laughed and the boy said, “Not you, her,” and pointed to Sharla. I was mortified. Sharla ignored them and we just kept walking, but it took me a long time to even think about talking to a boy after that.

This lack of self-confidence, which was reinforced by an emotionally and mentally abusive marriage, has translated to every aspect of my life. I still find it hard to believe any compliment given me, I don’t believe people really like me as a person, and
I never think anything I do is good enough, including my writing. I’ve been working on all of this on my own and with counselors for years, but I don’t know that I ever will think that I am pretty or talented or competent. Sometimes I can fake it, but we all know that never lasts. This is one of the main reasons I joined IWSG. I’m hoping that with your help I can gather enough courage to write and then submit my writing. I know that I will never be a world famous author, but it would be nice to have something of mine published even if it’s just for posterity.

P.S. This is my first ISWG blog, so if there was something I was supposed to do and didn’t please tell me. I’m not blog savvy and I’m not sure I did everything in the instructions I was supposed to do.


A Writing Accountability Partner

Writing Accountability

I’m a high school English teacher. When I give my students a large project, (let’s take the research project they just completed) I know that I have to break it down into small portions and have a check date for each small portion. If I don’t hold them accountable, they won’t do anything until the very end and then I’ll have 150 students wanting my help on the whole project in the last three days of the four week project. So, I give them a check date for source one, source two, source three, source four, thesis statement, outline/solution, and final project. For most of them, this is sufficient. For the others, they accept the consequences.

I’m trying to find someone who will text me or call me to make sure I’m staying on track. I need to have a goal and have some type of outside pressure to meet it. I feel that whoever it is needs to be a writer too so that they understand my struggles. This is why I do not ask anyone I know because most of them are not writers. The few who are are so busy that I do not want to impose on them by asking them to be my accountability partner. (Plus I’m scared.)

Recently, I went to a conference for English teachers and one of the sessions I went to was led by a woman who is a teacher and a free-lance writer. She said that one day she realized that what she taught her students in class about writing was nothing like what she did when she did her own writing. She immediately started incorporating the real world process of writing into her classroom. One of the things that she does, that I plan on using with my own students, is to have them create a writing contract with her. They set a goal of words, pages, or time that they have to meet either daily or weekly. This is what I want for myself.

I also need to be realistic. During the school year my time is much more limited, but during breaks (normally) I have a lot more time. I would like to have different goals for these times.

Another reason I would like to have an accountability partner is to have someone push me outside my boundaries. I know what I want to write, but maybe that’s not what I’m best at writing and if I don’t try other genres I’ll never know. However, I’ll not take that risk without someone pushing me to do so. Just like I’ll never submit without someone pushing me to do so. That’s a third reason for me to have an accountability partner. One that I just thought of actually, but a very valid one.

So, hopefully, there is someone out there who would be willing to be my writing accountability partner. I’d be happy to return the favor if they want.

Why I’m Starting This Blog

Reading. Imagination. Writing. They go hand in hand right? Not necessarily. I read A LOT! I’m a bookacholic. I would rather read than do anything else. When I read the world falls away and I watch a movie in my head as the words unfold before my eyes. I have three libraries: a classroom library, a home library, and an eBook library. (I’m an English teacher; therefore, the classroom library.) I have read thousands and thousands of books in my lifetime. Some I have read until they are falling apart. Some I read when I was younger and cannot stand the thought of letting them go. Some I have read once and relegated to the “never again” list. I would rather give up TV and music than books.

When my cousins, sisters, and I were little and we would spend the holidays together, we would all sleep in the same room. Sometimes we all slept on the floor in sleeping bags and sometimes we would crowd onto a couple of bed (at least one person ended up on the floor before the night was over). Every single night we would tell stories. Sometimes we would do it round robin and sometimes we would take turns. Sometimes the stories were long and sometimes they were short. I can distinctly remember one story my cousin, Shelly, told (until I fell asleep on her) one Christmas. It was about a cave we discovered with chocolate rivers and dragons who guarded hoards of candy. Cotton candy clouds and trees made of different candies that bore candy fruit. It wasn’t only at night though that we told stories. Out back was my grandpa’s broken down Chevy pickup truck that we would drive through the depths of the ocean describing the beautiful and terrifying creatures we saw. Sometimes we were in one of the arctics and sometimes we were in the steaming jungle. The hours passed quickly as we used our imaginations to create worlds and adventures. (None of our families owned TV’s, so books fueled our imagination.)

Everyday, at the end of the day, my grandmother would write for a few minutes in her diary. She recorded the temperature three times a day and would write maybe a page in a notebook about what had happened that day. She did this every day from the time she was sixteen years old until she became too ill to write anymore. That is dedication. If writers had her work ethic they’d never get writer’s block! I tried this on more than one occasion, but I am not my grandmother. I journal when things get rough. I jot down story ideas from dreams and imagination and conversations. I write poetry when the mood strikes. I start stories, but I never finish them. This then is what I want. I want to get the stories out of my head and onto paper. I want to write essays about my life and experiences that I think would help others. I want to inspire others with my poetry. I want. . . but I never reach completion. Why? Partly I’m scared. Scared that people will reject my writing and, in that, reject me. Partly I’m unmotivated. There’s no pressing deadline for me to meet so if I don’t finish (or start) it’s no big deal.

That is why I am writing this. Because I want someone to hold me accountable. Because I want someone to read my work and encourage me or tell me what is wrong in a nice way so I can fix it. Because I want to DO not just think about doing. Because I want to fulfill my dream not just dream it. So, to all those insecure writers out there, please help me succeed.

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