Wednesday, March 20, 2013


When working with students to support their creation of ideas for writing, I often use an idea from Georgia Heard where students grow their writing territories in their notebooks, thinking about stories within their heart.  They draw a picture of a heart and write stories that are on the edge of their heart, deep within their heart, on the outside but close to their heart and outside of their heart.  They use this image throughout the year as they develop their writing ideas.  I will remember my own experience today as I teach children how to mine those heart stories.

Today I began writing about a topic that was smack-dab in the center of my heart.  And I couldn’t finish it.  The idea was great.  The parallel images with the idea were strong and poignant.  I loved the imagery.  And the writing would not flow.  It began as paragraphs, went to poetry and then back to paragraphs.  The words wouldn’t show themselves.  The meaning within the words was too close.    I froze and felt incapable of making the image in my mind come alive with my words.  The image was too close.

Sometimes I need space from poignancy, allowing it to distant so I can make it real with my words.  This was true tonight as I wrote something that I was sure would just emerge out of me.  So I jotted my half-finished ideas and incomplete words into my notebook for another day.  A distant day when the memory is detached and the lesson isn’t quite so fresh.  I will give it time for the meaning and lesson to percolate and become a part of my fabric, and yet a distant thought.

Heart territories demand to be honored.  Smack-dab in the middle of the heart might not be the best place to start to write.  At least for today.  And my words told me so.


  1. Very nice self-observation.
    E. Hemmingway charged, "Write long and hard about what hurts." One summer I took that advice. Writing did not exactly flow.
    What I did eventually get out where two pieces about sibling suicides that I think are quite good.
    Heart things, writing about them, takes bravery.
    I am always amazed by the student who takes on something from his or her heart charged with emotion.

  2. You have made an important point: it can be very hard - impossible - to share what is deepest in our hearts. Somtimes, it takes many, many years before our deepest memories become words but when they do find a way can be powerful to see the energy they absorbed as they waited to be shared.

  3. I have never thought of this...but it did happen to me this weekend. " Sometimes I need space from poignancy, allowing it to distant so I can make it real with my words" I'm trying almost too hard to get the story out and it is refusing to break free, at this point...and it is a hard one xo

  4. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from the writing- mulling it over. It may be too raw, too confronting to immediately commit to the page. You have responded to the internal voice.

  5. One of my students was really hurting this week. Now I realize what it took for him to write. Thanks!