Category Archives: Writing

Zines

I have a new hobby. As I have said before, Portland seems to be quite the hobby town, and it is encouraging my own creativity. Recently, I was turned on to the world of zines. You will find a good definition of a zine at Wikipedia.

Portland seems to be crazy about zines. Most bookstores seem to have a section for them, and there are at least three bookstores that include a great deal of zines in their merchandise. I first became interested in zines when I stumbled across the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC). I joined the IPRC and began taking classes and reading through their extensive zine library.

As I continued to research zines, I came across a topic that I am using to write my first zine. I am writing teaching tips for teachers. I am taking all of my experience and trying to condense it down into a detailed, readable, and funky zine. I’m giving advice on substitute teaching (always carry Bandaids), curriculum development (real and relevant), classroom management, and parent/teacher conferences just to name a few of the chapters. I am limiting it to 10 pages front and back (4 zine pages per page), and I plan on hand stitching it with waxed linen thread. I took a class on this stitching method, and I am very excited to use it on my own work.

What will I do with the product? I don’t know. Part of the fun for me has just been the process. It was almost therapeutic to put my thoughts and ideas down on paper. I may see if the local bookstores will market it, and I may use it in interviews where I can show evidence of my educational beliefs and ability to use the computer and self-publishing concepts in the classroom.
I have to admit, I’m not really that concerned about what I do with it now. For me, it was all about the writing of the book.

I have already learned several things about myself and the self-publishing process. Some of the the things I have learned are below:

  • I learned to use the Paint computer program to make graphics. Next time, I want to use something different.
  • My first rough draft was very readable, sterile, and boring. Zines are supposed to be somewhat funky. I ended up experimenting with borders, fonts, and graphics in order to add a little whimsy to my zine
  • I learned that I know a lot more about teaching than I give myself credit for knowing.

I am already thinking of ideas for my next zine. It may be about living on the farm in junior high, or it may be about the crazy Oregon Trail that I took from Tulsa to Oregon. I have not decided yet, but I am already excited about the possibilities.

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Moments of Being

Virginia Woolf once wrote about a concept that she called “Moments of Being.” According to Woolf, moments of being are those times in life when years later you can still remember how it felt, what it smelled like, the temperature, etc. They are those rare moments where no matter how much time elapses when you think about them in your mind you are magically transported back to that space. Woolf wrote that these “Moments of Being” are the things that one should write about. I can’t will an experience into being a “Moment of Being.” In fact, often they are fairly ordinary or common place moments, but for some reason I can remember them perfectly. An example is when I was little and a dog jumped up and knocked my snow cone over. I remember the air being crisp, and my hands being sticky. I also remember the extreme guilt I felt at the age of five as my mother wiped up my spilled cone and then gave me hers.

I have had many events that I wished were moments of being, but they just turned out to be magical moments in my mind. For example, today I was driving back on I 5 from a conference in Lake Oswego. All of a sudden I looked out and saw a fantastic view of Mount Hood. It was incredible. Because traffic was backed up, I had several moments to sit and stare at the snow capped mountain. While crossing the Ross Island Bridge, I was able to see Mount St. Helens in the distance. It just was so clear and crisp and enchanting. Will I remember it as a moment of being? I don’t think so. But it was a magical moment all the same.

I am intrigued by this thought tonight, and it is driving me to consider my own moments of being. I have decided to list a few below:

1. I remember when I was in 7th grade and had been working out in the barn on a particularly cold winter’s night in Western Kansas. When mom called us in to supper, she had homemade stew and homemade buttermilk biscuits on the table. I still remember the taste of that stew and the smell of those biscuits. I can still remember the steam coming up from those items on the table and how it felt when I swallowed all that wonderful warmth into my freezing body.

2. When I was 19 years old, I had the good fortune to spend a weekend at a retreat house in upstate Minnesota called the Villa Maria http://www.villamariaretreats.org/ We stayed in the main building that time had kind of left behind. The rooms were bare and cold. I remember waking up in the morning on the third floor and realizing that the cold Minnesota morning had crept into the room as we had slept. I jumped out of bed, my toes cringing at the cold linoleum underneath my feet, and ran to the bathroom. They had a couple of rows of old clawfoot tubs seperated by shower curtains. I filled one of the tubs with hot water and had one of the most soothing and relaxing baths of my life. No one else was up, and it was just me in this large bathtub with the steam rising up from the water. My feet are tingling just now as I recall how it felt to step into that incredible tub.

3. The first year after I graduated from college, my father passed away from a painful form of cancer. It was quite a year to say the least. I had taken a job five hours from home and was teaching Eng. 9 and Eng. 10, fall play director, forensics coach, and assistant basketball coach to the junior high. On the weekends I often went home to help mom with dad. On one particular Saturday I had stayed at school to work on the set of the play. It was just me in this large, old school. I worked late into the evening while rock music played on the radio. While I was blocking out the lighting system and when which lights should go on in the script, I started dancing to the music. Before I knew it I was dancing on stage to the rock music under the stage lights. I switch from green to yellow to blue lights as I danced more and more wildly on stage. I jumped and swirled in time to the music. It wasn’t dull dancing, but a form of wild/animalistic dancing. I was dancing out all of my stress and fear. It was like if I didn’t dance I would cry. I can remember the heat of the lights on my face and the beating of my heart as the sweat began to form and run down my cheeks. I can remember the thud my feet made on the stage as I ran around the stage dancing in an effort to bring back some type of calm and stability into my life Most of all I can remember the feeling of exhaustion and total muscle relaxation as I collapsed on stage in a heap of spent emotion. When I think about that moment, I am transported back to this time in my mind.

So, there are three of my “Moments of Being.” I have more, but then again we all do. I wonder what other people have for “Moments of Being.” What are your “Moments of Being?”

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Writing

As I sit here in the office and begin this blog post, I hear in the background the tick tock of my 1880’s Waterbury clock that I got from Grandma’s house. I like to think of it as the heartbeat of the house because if you listen quietly, you can hear it in every room of the main level. I have definitely put into it in repairs more than it is worth. I like it, and it is very relaxing. 🙂

So, what does the clock have to do with writing? Well, it actually was the inspiration to one of my longest writings yet. I have always said that every English teacher has at least one unpublished, and unfinished, book on their hard drives or in their closet somewhere. I am no exception. I have written over 100 pages on a book that takes place in the old west and centers around a small town called Justice. It unflinchingly details the specifics of small town life that applied back then and still today. It was inspired by the clock on the wall. This clock plays a visible roll in the first scene of the book, and it continues to reappear throughout.

Why haven’t I finished the book? Good question. Part of me says that the book tells me when it wants to be worked on and continued. I know, lame excuse. I guess I just don’t have the tenacity of the great authors. Hmmmmm, let me take that back. Someone can actually have tenacity and write/publish many books, but they really are not close to great authors, they are just popular authors. Yes, there is a difference, or am a I just an English snob.

I wish I were one of those people who really loved writing. Where an evening at home with my laptop or pencil and paper is the highlight of my week. Unfortunately, I am not that way. I am blogging now though, so maybe there is hope. One of my goals is to be a published author, and so far I have been able to attain my goals in life. I just think it would be so cool to walk into Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf. I would have to take a picture of it.

As I sit here in the office and see the clouds outside I realize that this would be the perfect day to pick up my book writing again. Will I do it? I don’t know. I also am tempted to keep reading my current book selection, The World Without Us, http://www.worldwithoutus.com/ by Alan Weisman. I just looked out my window and saw my 82 year old neighbor, Frank, loading fishing stuff into an SUV. It looks like his wife is going with him too. An outdoor adventure sounds interesting today. Oh, and the Hollywood theater, http://www.hollywoodtheatre.org/ is showing some great independent films. Ok, now I am beginning to understand why I don’t take the time to write.

Uh oh, the sun is staring to poke through the clouds which is a definite sign that I might end up doing something outside today instead of writing. I’m thinking the day might begin best with a Bubble Tea from the Fat Straw. Ohhhhh yeaaaaa!

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