A Book Has To Be About Something

Now that I was retired, I had time to fulfill a childhood dream—to write a book and publish it. Only I didn’t know what to write. I created a new document on my laptop and stared at the blank page.

“You can do this,” I told myself.

And I remembered back to elementary school where I won first prizes in writing competitions and to high school when I once received a $25 check for an article I wrote for a magazine and to college when professors had told me I should pursue writing in a serious way.

Only I couldn’t write.

So I went to a writing conference where I learned about the five values of art and writing tools like Scrivener. At the conference were bloggers and authors of books and poets, who all talked about voice. And I left that conference with one conclusion—I didn’t have a voice.

But then I took a road trip with my son, who knows how to write books and get them published. He asked me about the writing conference, and I told him what I had discovered at the conference—that I didn’t have a voice.

“What do you know, Mom?” he asked.

Not much, I thought. I went to school and then I taught school. I’ve spent my life in the classroom.

And from that idea, a possibility emerged—what if I were to write a memoir about my education, a teacher looking back on the classrooms that formed me?

I had, after all, a unique repertoire of schooling. I had gone to school, for example, with the Amish in the mountains of western Pennsylvania and with the city kids in the rustbelt city of Flint, Michigan, and with the hippies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

How did this disparate education later influence my teaching?

(more to come)


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