risking mediocrity


Today as I was gathering up the historical and non-fiction to bring to the graduate class that I teach, I look at the words in these books that I treasure.  I enjoy the historical, the most, The Orphan Train begs me to open the pages.  White Socks Only and Freedom Summer, oh no, I can’t seem to find it..  I look hard at Ruby Bridges and wonder what she is doing now.  I feel drawn to story, the story of people’s lives, the story

of your life,

I treasure Tuesday, the crafting of story, the play of writing, the joy of pressing that button to publish and then to hear from other authors, you, who also push the button to publish.  Lately, it has felt like  a writing hole for me, I’m anxious to climb out of it.

You are helping me climb out, because I read your words, your stories and I am renewed and energized and reminded that the discipline of writing our lives is sometimes joyous, but often it is painful, bruising as we push.  You mentor me.

I spy another treasure on my shelf.  It will help me this Thursday night as we talk about writing mentors.  Katherine Paterson was the two-time winner of the National Book Award and Newbery Medal.  Of course we know her; we love her words.  We imagined Terabithia and in another personal favorite. I ached for Gilly to realize that she had arrived in the best home possible with Mamie Trotter, just as I ached for Kelly, my daughter to realize that we were the family that loved her, that wanted her.    I flipped the first few pages hoping for some nuggets to share with my students.   This is a book about the writerly life, how her life informed her books. One day Katherine was speaking with a graduate professor and said to the professor that she didn’t want to add another mediocre author to the world.  Her teacher, Sara Little, replied saying that if she didn’t dare mediocrity she would never write anything at all (The Invisible Child, 2001).

I will dare mediocrity.  I will continue to push the button on my laptop.

And I know you will too.  We all take the risk.


About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

11 responses »

  1. As Ruth often says, “Writing matters.” I wish I could make other teachers understand that. Writing has changed how I view the world and record the small bits. You get it. I am also so excited to see you are coming to All Write! Won’t that be an awesome experience!

      • What a sad statement that you have to convince first grade teachers that reading aloud is part of CCSS. Tell them that is the way they should be doing close reading. It is also a way for students to respond/discuss complex text. Their leveled readers are not providing them with complex text. Read aloud is the most important strategy at any grade level.

  2. A writing community is so important, isn’t it? That’s been a huge lesson for my students this year. They learned how to depend on each other for support and inspiration. They discovered that I wasn’t the only one who could help them.

    PS…tell those first grade teachers that reading aloud is one of the most important things they do all day. 🙂

  3. It is so cool the way you crafted this, pairing your search for books with the way we write here on Tuesdays. Writing is transforming. Phooey on those poor First Grade teachers. They are scared but hopefully they will get over it. If they do they can’t help but discover the joys and powerful teaching embedded in the read aloud! In the meantime….sighing with you!

  4. Challenge mediocrity! Read aloud to first graders! How will they expand their vocabulary, their understandings, comprehension, their joy? Goodness! This is so dangerously scary to think of. Not read to a first grader? Well, might we be running out of time to do this during the day with all those assessments?
    I have made a “found poem”of SOL post titles today and your title is in my poem!

  5. risk mediocrity —- I won’t soon forget that phrase. Thanks – I love it.

    I love the way you crafted this piece – the way you spoke to us, the way you used mentor texts to anchor this piece, and the ending. It’s great. I’ll be reading it to students next year for sure!

  6. I can’t believe you’re what you’re dealing with. Fighting for read aloud? When did we have to fight to read aloud for kids?!?! All of the research is there! No wonder you’re feeling spent, Nancy!

    I wish you ease as the school year draws to a close so that your words can flow again. Your voice is an important part of this community so I hope you’ll keep sharing!

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