I woke up early to write today but it is no longer early: it is almost time to go. Rather than write first thing, as I had promised myself, I turned on the oven to make my son’s breakfast, turned on the kettle to make myself tea. I fed the cats and checked my email. I read some other slices – to get inspiration, I told myself – and commented. I played a word game in the NYTimes. I dithered.
I love writing but I often struggle to start – and what writer doesn’t? Ideas fill my head at all the moments when I’m not able to write them down. I shape the phrases, find the insights, promise to remember, to catch them…. and then I don’t. Now I’ve committed myself to the 2021 Slice of Life challenge, to writing every day, at a time when I already barely have time to breathe. I sit here, staring at my screen, thinking what have I done?
But I know what I have done: I have committed to try. I have committed to sharing (my OLW for the month is, in fact, publish). I have committed to bringing my imperfect self to the page as often as I can. Truth be told, I am often afraid to show the world my imperfect self – even if the world is just a few readers of this blog. And yet, I will do it.
Last week my students handed in their first major assignment, a personal essay. Because of the structure of the pandemic school year, they wrote their essays and handed them in after seeing me in person, at most, five times. They trusted me with their stories; I really gave them no choice since it was an assignment. Some of the essays are unfinished (Can you help? is written at the top of one, This story is important but it’s hard for me to write about & I don’t know how to end.) but they are written, attempted, shared. This amazes me year after year.
I, of course, have much more practice at writing than my students do. I’ve practiced the tricks to getting something out of my head onto the page and into the world nearly every week for a few years now. This challenge helps me remember the fun and the fear that comes with writing: the community, the chaos, the commitment that is writing. This is why I signed up. This is why I’m here.
For this month I will trust you, reader, with my stories and my imperfect self. Together, we will see what happens. Welcome. Welcome again.