Slice of Life March Challenge. No. 28.
Backstory of yesterday and today’s posts.
Last year, during #SOL16, I revised a draft about a childhood memory, a first grade memory, “The Day My Teacher Died.” The next day I wrote about how I revised that writing; that post is called “The Marmalade Cat.” When I signed up for #SOL17, I thought I’d like to do two posts similar to that again. So, yesterday, I revised and published a short memory piece about my mother-in-law — “Without Words.” And today I am sharing notes about my craft moves.
Before I share, lest my notes about my crafting make the writing seem easy and sequential, a single-day accomplishment, I must assure you it was not. During the real time moment, sitting in the back seat of the car, I scratch some notes on an envelope. I stuffed the envelope into the back of my bullet journal. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anything else with it. Some time later, as I read those notes, I decided to draft a couple paragraphs. For two years, I would pick at it — change a word, add something, strike something out, take a different approach — never really planning to complete it. I think I was working through the anguish I felt for my mother-in-law. I think the writing lessened the ache in my heart. My last draft was written a couple years ago, shortly after my mother-in-law passed away.
Writing about my writing.
When I finish writing, I often jot down notes about my writing, about my thinking. As a teacher, I have found inspiration in looking back at my writing and at my thinking about that writing. And it can be a valuable resource in the classroom. The pages below provide a peek into my thinking as I crafted my way to the final draft of “Without Words.” I did not keep record of the sequence of the revisions. I wish I would have and that I would have kept some of the other drafts.
Object Placement and Bookending.
I used of the phrase “without words” as the title and as the ending line. I also made reference to the idea at the end of the first part: “I can no longer speak.” Using an object or phrase near the beginning and again near the end of a piece is a craft move I call object placement. The object or phrase may be very significant to the story, or it may be simply a piece of incidental information. But it usually is not directly mentioned anywhere else in the piece. Effective use of this move will tie the story together. A good example of this craft move is “Great Joy” by Kate Dicamillo: Great Joy is the book title and it is a phrase spoken by the main character at the end of the story. When the object or phrase is placed at the very beginning and at the very end, as it is in “Without Words,” it is referred to as bookending.
Copy 1: Highlighting word choices, showing how parts tie together, and sharing insight into my thinking via margin notes.
Copy 2: Identifying the use of the power of three (another craft move), and underlining my two favorite slices of text.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for hosting
2017 Slice of Life Story Challenge
I remember those two pieces from last year! I loved them both. It is so great to get a glimpse inside your process! Thanks for sharing!
My goodness, this was a fascinating glimpse into what it means to be a writer.
Writing process cracked open – wow! I love your advice to take notes after completing a piece. Living the teaching life as a reflective practitioner is critical. There are so many lines, phrases and words I love in this gorgeous piece, but I will choose this, “The sun is gone, leaving only a soft glow like dying embers in a winter fireplace” – foreshadowing her end years.
I am so glad you shared this process with us.Writing is personal and everyone attacks it in a different way. I enjoyed your reflections on this piece.
That is so true: writing is very personal. And I find that I “attack” different pieces, topics, genre, prompts… in different ways, using my tools differently. The biggest portion of the “thinking” part is in the revision work for me. That’s where I wield my tools. I think most writing instruction is about noticing the results of various tools and learning how and when to use them. Then we can consciously choose tools to craft deliberately.
Thank you for sharing this. I feel like you’ve allowed us to peek into your mind. I reflect on myself as a writer, but not in this way. It’s a neat way to do it, and shows your dedication to your craft. 🙂
Glad you came by. 🙂 Do you ever share your reflections on your writing? I’d love to see them. Let me know because I learn so much when I see the thinking of others.
I haven’t but you have inspired me to try…maybe…
Fascinating insider look st making art– in this case writing. I appreciate the visual image of the writing and your discipline to record and think about the how of your writing.
I use the rule of 3 in photography and painting ..,
Thanks for stopping by and reminding me about “rule of 3” in other art forms — such an important tool for crafting in all art forms.
Your ability to reflect on your writing is remarkable. I would have loved to be in your class!
Thanks, Lori. I’m thinking to show some other things with the piece “Without Words” in today’s post.