KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

National Poetry Month—there’s one week left!

If I were a poet, celebrations of  National Poetry month would likely include the writing of some really great poetry.  Since I am not a poet, every year I use the celebration as an excuse to write some really bad poetry.  This may seem an odd way to celebrate the art of making, of poesis, but because these scribbles require attention, they produce increased respect for craft.  By treating the writing of poetry like inquisitive play, I’m given a gift: every happy failure committed to paper causes my appreciation for the really good stuff to go up like a bottle rocket.  So even the playful writing of bad poetry feels like one “right” response to the month’s intention.

One way to think of poetry is it’s a making that captures in literary form what might otherwise run down the drain with the dishwater.  Moments.  Images.  A glance.  New ways of seeing something familiar.  Considering that a miniature form might suit my non-poetic soul, this year I turned again to Gail Sher in her lovely book  One Continuous Mistake: Four Nobel Truths for Writers and her suggestion to write a haiku a day.  She suggested six months.  Fearing such a commitment too deep for a dabbler, I tried six days, and even in that brief span found myself growing more aware and open to fresh perceptions.

Sher’s introduction “Guidelines for Beginning Writers of Haiku” is elegant, simple, inviting.  She sketches the three levels on which a haiku works, and suggests a writer capture the “instantaneous now.”  Ah, I thought.  This is welcome discipline in the midst of my “too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time” daily race.Today I noticed the rain puddling—intense colors in the gray light—and a swelling gratitude for reminders to breathe deeply, settle, aim for clarity.

Which poems have you tried writing, or carried with you, to celebrate the month?

What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

[This post is written in support of the National Writing Project, a recent victim of federal budget cuts.]

For twenty-three years I answered this question the same way: I worked with the Bluegrass Writing Project Summer Institute for public school teachers. I spent four weeks, all day, every day, with twenty other teachers.  I coached teaching demonstrations. I prepared teaching demonstrations. I argued pedagogy. I read books and scholarly articles. I gave feedback on ideas for research projects.

Over doughnuts and coffee, at break time, during lunch periods, I talked about the art of teaching writing.  Beginning with the first thirty minutes of each day, I wrote every chance I had. I kept a writer’s notebook. I met with a writing group. I revised my work. I practiced reading it aloud. On Friday afternoons I sat in a circle and listened to everyone read pieces aloud. I laughed, I groaned, I passed the Kleenex box. I created a portfolio of my own writing. I selected my best piece for the annual anthology.

When the month was over, I felt both drained and replenished. And I could not wait to see the teachers at our first Saturday renewal meeting that fall.

Just as I experienced the same rhythm for twenty-three summers, so did teachers all over the country who participated in a writing project at their own local universities. I knew that all over the country public school teachers were living at the same high level. I knew we were experiencing the most powerful professional development model available to teachers. I knew we were becoming writers.

I knew the ripples from our summer gatherings were spreading deep and wide as each of us shared what we had learned with colleagues. I knew we made an impact on the teaching of writing in our classroom, our districts, our states. I knew our students were changed as they discovered their writing voices as modeled by that rarest of creatures: the teacher who writes.

This summer I’ll be writing and reading because the habit is firmly established. However, I’ll miss the opportunity to flesh out my ideas through debate with other eager professionals. My growth will be slowed without the opportunity to behave as both believer and doubter, to practice the habits of mind that make a thoughtful teacher.

And I’ll be writing letters to my elected representatives, asking them to reconsider this grave error they have made.

If you are interested in reading other blog posts supporting the National Writing Project, click on http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/the-blog4nwp-archive/.

Comments (1) — Categorized under: Jan Isenhour — Tags:

Patience and the Tiger

Patience and the Tiger

Weigh, hey, year three is it of this novel? It’s draft number three at any rate. Writing a novel takes endurance and faith and the patience to tolerate so many days that look the same: the screen ahead, the softening hips below, the sun rarely shining, the rain coming too often, the snow a bore. Writing a novel is like rowing toward the horizon. No matter how many times you crank the oars, nor how many months you have been at this labor, the horizon is still far away, and the shore has disappeared. There is nothing to do but keep on going.

Now, as a somewhat creative person, I like to make things. But the course of writing a novel requires so much patience that I find myself turning to other enterprises in order to feed my need for quicker gratification. (note: eating is not advised as a means of instant gratification. A novelist spends entire seasons in a chair, and blooms but not in a flattering way.)

This winter I tried drawing and painting to satisfy this need. As you can see from the photo I posted, I am quite an amateur with  visual composition. However, the delight I got from using color to make forms on a page was exciting and soothing. It quieted the internal, impatient tiger wanting to be finished with this novel right now. It kept my tiger distracted, purring as if my the brush strokes were petting its fur. If you are at sea with a novel, it helps to have a tiger on board, as Yann Martel illustrated so well in Life of Pi.

Today we are roaring across the waves and my little creative self has had some play and is quite happy to be in the boat, and the tiger has begun to eat up all the chocolates and the ladies in the painting are losing it, but that is the way of writing a novel.

Comments (2) — Categorized under: Creativity,Lynn Pruett