I prefer rough drafts. I love the crossing out, the additions, the edits, the sloppy handwriting, the scratched out misspelled words, and thoughts written in the margins. In the mess, there is beauty. And, when you are in the trenches of writing, of teaching, of living, some pretty beautiful things emerge if you just let yourself go with the flow.
As I am back into the real classroom this year, not a virtual zoom classroom, I have noticed that the students are having a hard time with process learning over product learning. Many want the immediate results of turning in an assignment on google classroom, rather than spending days on a project, and adding on to their learning each day. I spend a lot of time teaching how the brain works these days, and how we add layers to our learning. There are moments when I wonder how I can retrain these young minds and help them fall in love with learning again. How has 18 months changed all of us so much?
While I was pondering these thoughts the other day, my mind drifted to five summers ago. . .
Five summers ago, I had the opportunity to attend a writing institute at Columbia University. I was excited, honored, and nervous to see if I could really produce the writing that I had in my heart and also teach young children how to become lifelong writers. I had no idea what the week would hold for me as an educator. But what I found is that I learned a lot about myself that week. I had five days of peacefulness, intentionality of my words, and my thinking was uninterrupted.
As a writer, I often write many drafts. I love to rewrite the endings to stories. I also love to add details to the middle of my stories. But The hardest part for me is rewriting the beginning. I feel like I have done all of the hard work, and I don’t want to start all over.
When I was at the institute, I had an entire day of analyzing writing pieces, and then rewriting the beginnings. It was painful, I battled within my brain on how to change the story, and in the end, I did it, but I was exhausted.
I wonder, if we all grapple with rewriting a beginning? How often in life do we wish we could go back and change something? But, what if we didn’t go back in time, what if we rewrote our narrative.
It reminds me of one of my favorite musicals, “The Greatest Showman.”
In the lyrics “Rewrite the Stars” the songwriter wrote
It's not up to you
It's not up to me
When everyone tells us what we can be
How can we rewrite the stars?
Say that the world can be ours
At the end of my five day institute, I realized I had a lot of narratives and life moments that were waiting to be released, if only I had the courage to embrace them. Do you have the courage to rewrite a beginning?
Like my grandma used to say, it’s now or never. What are you waiting for?
Get messy, get uncomfortable, and write in the margins, the world is waiting for you.