Monday, April 21, 2014

Seeds of Inspiration

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the school where I taught third grade for several years BC (Before Children ☺). Although it doesn’t feel like it, almost 12 years have passed since we moved from Florida to Texas. Very pregnant with twins and relieved that my husband would no longer have to travel, I moved on with tears and sadness but also with a distracted eye towards an exciting future. Texas was (mostly) a fun adventure, and now our family is back in the Carolinas. Life has moved on and my boys are headed to middle school in a few short months. But when I walked through the gates of “my school” last week, it felt like I was returning after a long vacation—certainly not 12 amazing, action-packed years!

I know this goes back to people and relationships; my friends and colleagues at this school blessed me in so many ways over the years. My teaching partner, especially, helped me through some tough times and showed me what a difference a truly fabulous teacher can make in the lives of children. (I could say much more, but this would get really long—just know that this lady is one of the most incredible teachers EVER!) As I walked through the halls, memories popped up all over the place and I marveled, over and over, about the fluidity of time.
Peeking into classrooms and finding myself in the role of an objective observer, I also recognized many little details from my writing; the way a classroom is laid out, the covered walkway to the music room, the hum of busy kids packing up after a fun day at school. There are some elements from my teaching days that I’ve intentionally sprinkled throughout my writing—a fun experiment my class did each year, the inflection of third graders’ speech, funny conversations with kids, super teachers and engaged students. But what I didn’t fully realize until last week is how much the sense of place and contentment and “fun learning” at this special school has seeped into my writing. It’s not necessarily something I can put my finger on, but I know it’s there—when I summon a “School” in my mind, this school environment is what my characters experience!
I’ve always known that writing reflects an author’s experiences and memories, often without the author realizing it, but to come face-to face with this was lots of fun and very special. By no means is this the exact same school in my chapter books—this one is modern and bright and my fictional school is an old brick building that sprawls every which way (much like the elementary school I attended, now that I think about it…). But it was great fun to see the seeds that were planted so many years ago and to acknowledge how they have blossomed into ideas for setting, characters, story, and mood. With a little more tending and pruning, I hope to grow a published book series one day soon! ☺
What seeds of inspiration can you acknowledge in your writing?

Happy Writing!

14 comments:

  1. We never know who or what will pop out of our memories and onto the page. I was framing up a new WIP this week and an old palomino pony named Sandy came forward.

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    1. Sandy sounds like fun, Kristen! I like "We never know who or what will pop out of our memories and onto the page." Definitely a writer's quote to hang on to! = )

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  2. I've pulled experiences from my teaching for my writing as well. I visited the school where I taught for seven years and realized how much I pulled from that school. Funny how we do that. :)

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    1. It is funny and fun, and a little mind-bending, isn't it? = )

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  3. Great stuff when we begin to see the connections from our past are right here with us still. I like the way you told the story.

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  4. I bet that was a neat 'homecoming'. Right now in my WIP I'm inspired by acrobatics- something I've always thought was amazing. When we went to the circus a few years ago, I paid super close attention to that portion of the show!

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    1. I can't wait to read your book, Leandra--acrobatics would be a fascinating thing to read (and write!) about. = )

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    1. Thanks, Tabatha! Gotta keep my eye on that goal!

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  6. Were you at Stephen Barr's talk on location? What I really loved is that we are a product of the place we grew up, and we should never forget. The same goes for our characters. As for becoming a writer, I owe a great deal to Enid Blyton, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, AJ Cronin, Lloyd C. Douglas, and my mother most of all, who read to us.

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    1. YES! SB's talk on location was wonderful! I especially enjoyed the writing exercise we did in there. I love Blyton, Dickens, and Hardy--now I have to go read Cronin and Douglas. My mom gets MUCH thanks, too, for encouraging my sisters and I to read. = )

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  7. Sometimes a friend comes into your life to cry with you in sad times and laugh with you in happy times. Even after years apart, when you see those friends again, it's like time stood still, and you pick up right where you left off. They inspire you to become a better person. Those are lifetime friends and I'm blessed to call you my lifetime friend! I read your blog today with tears in my eyes! We miss you, Becky Shillington!!!! You are an awesome teacher and a wonderful friend!!!

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    1. You are right, Gina--lifetime friends are the very, very best ones to have! I miss you, too! I will be back soon, I hope!

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