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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Recharging and Reconnecting

My writing imagination is a quirky beast. Some writers moan about having too many story ideas to put on paper. Not me. My ideas flit in after frighteningly long intervals--long enough to bring on the "What if I never have another idea?" night sweats. So when a compelling idea flutters at the edges of my mind, I trap it on paper before it can fly off into the land of Irretrievable Glimmers of Imagination. Luckily for me, this autumn brought two unrelated happenings that have given my touchy creativity a boost of energy.
One happening was the Black Hills vacation Mike and I returned from late Monday night. Although we've been together for nearly three decades (Yeah, it sounds like forever to me, too!), we'd never taken a road trip. Spending a week together in close quarters was iffy. As it turned out, we had no reasons to worry. On the first day, we were caught up in the stark beauty of the Badlands. At dawn the next morning we struggled to run up the long, steep hill to Mount Rushmore and--aided by gravity--dashed back to Keystone. We stood nose-to-nose with mountain goats and burros and watched wild mustangs running free. We rode in an 1880s train and found treasures in a pile of glittering rocks spilling from an abandoned mine. Each day's experiences stimulated my senses and recharged my imagination. What's great for my psyche is even better for my writing.
The other happening came last week as the members of my writing group talked about reconnecting with friends through Facebook. When I mentioned wanting to locate some of my former students, my friend and fellow writer Becky Janni explained how I could use Classmates to find them. Since then I've reconnected with a number of my favorite students. (Any teacher who claims not to have favorites is a dirty liar!) Looking at their pictures is like using a computer-aging program. I squint and turn my head from side to side, trying to superimpose sixth grade faces onto the young women and men smiling out of my computer. Seeing them, I remember the goofy things they said and did and the many times they patiently listened to--and encouraged--my early writing efforts. And, after all these years, they're kind enough to "friend" their former teacher and write a message on my wall.
While many people think of spring as a time of awakening, mine has come this fall. I've recharged and reconnected, and now I'm ready to write.

1 comment:

Danielle Joseph said...

Jan, first of all I love your pic!! And I could totally see how connecting with old students would conjur up so many memories. I used to teach middle school too and boy do I wish I wrote down everything those kids said!