Fifteen Minutes

I could come up with a list of excuses, some of them reasonable (most of them not). Anyone who takes the time to look back through my archive can see my spotty history with posting. I’m not sure if I can successfully make a habit out of it, but every time I fail is another chance to try again. After all, I’ll never get better at writing if I don’t do it regularly and push myself to get better at communication.

We are in week two of the new semester and I’m teaching poetry again. I love poetry.

I can admit that last semester was not by best by a wide margin. And, again, I could come up with a list of valid reasons that would just end up being excuses. I don’t want to excuse myself—I just need to do better.

Towards that end has come my challenge to my poetry students. I am asking them to write every day for fifteen minutes outside of school. There are no points for this. However, I know the stability and growth that will come to the ones who do it (and I’m doing it with them). The rules are easy:

  • Find a place to write
  • Try to stick to the same time of day
  • Set a timer for fifteen minutes
  • Write about whatever in whatever format

It’s going to take awhile to get back into a rhythm. Although, that holds true for most of the things I’d like to focus on for the next few months.

Grading Thoughts 

There are a lot of similarities in blogging, writing fan fiction, or writing for a high school English class. Sometimes people will blow us away and we get to see writers improve in leaps and bounds through active work. Other times we can see how little effort people put into what they put out in the world and that hurts something deep inside me. I get that my classes will never be most people’s first choice and I get that bloggers and fan fiction writers don’t have to share their words with the world.

I chose to be an English teacher, but I’d like to see more people take pride in what they write. I choose to read fan fiction and I choose not to read some things or comment on the pieces that have too many issues (one of the interesting things about the culture that’s grown up around fan fiction is the militant attitude some writers have towards criticism even when it’s meant to help).

Stories always have something to teach us if we are willing to look for the lessons. Everyone has a voice worth cultivating, but sometimes I really despise what people choose to say. I also am getting mighty tired of the way many current stories seem to thrive on a lack of communication, secrets, and not making sure the dead are really dead.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the supernatural (Supernatural pun intended) shows she spawned offered up an important lesson for the literal and metaphorical moments—always, always behead the dead unless they turn into dust and always scatter the remains so that the creepy monsters can’t come back.

Always… (2016)
Behead the dead,
Burn the bodies,
Salt and scatter the ashes.