Three pictures, one-hundred words, minimum: That’s what I asked of my students, and of myself, for the introductory blog assignment for the semester. “Rather than trying to tell your whole life story,” I wrote in the assignment, “focus on one aspect of your life or one interest of yours.” It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But when I sat down to complete the assignment, words initially failed me. As I tried to compose a draft in my mind, what came to me instead were these lines from Patricia Hampl’s essay “Red Sky in the Morning”:
How much reality can subject-verb-object bear on the frail shoulders of the sentence? The sigh within the sentence is more like this: I could tell you stories–if only stories could tell what I have in me to tell. (178)
Choosing to include those lines of Hampl’s reflects my passion for writing, while the words themselves illustrate the struggle of writing–even for those of us who identify ourselves as writers.
At the beginning of last semester, when I projected my own blog on the screen for the first time, one of the students remarked on the tagline: “Writer, Teacher.”
Have you written any books? she asked.
Written, not published, I started to say (“I could tell you stories . . .”), but instead I said, “I am not an author of any books, but I identify myself as a writer because I am someone for whom writing has always been a way of making sense of the world.
Hampl, Patricia. “Red Sky in the Morning.” Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft. Ed. Janet Burroway. 3rd ed. Longman, 2011.