Growing Pains…Or Start-Up Stressors

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So… on Wednesday January 15, 2014 I published my first ever post to my first ever blog. Yep..I just pressed “Publish” and miraculously my words and pictures were transported into cyber land. This is a whole lot different than posting a status or a photo album to Facebook or sending long, chatty e-mails home from our travels to a select list of family and friends. I was alternately excited and anxious…but mostly excited.

After 29 years of teaching English, and more specifically Creative Writing, to high school students I was about to put my money where my mouth is (or was as the case may be.) I always encouraged students to “put their ideas and words out there.” And talked about how hard it would be for them to let others see and read their work, especially creative pieces, the non-essay stuff. In my classes students worked in small “editorial” groups to improve their drafts and, when the final revising and polishing was complete and the print button had been pushed, we would have “Publishing Days” where students placed their finished work on a table at the front to be read and commented on by others in the class. They could submit their work anonymously if they were shy. And almost without exception this activity was met initially with trepidation and then with excitement. Like I felt on Wednesday.

So why was I feeling such trepidation? I mean, it’s not as if I am shy about speaking in public. I loved being at the front of the class, or speaking at meetings, or presenting at conferences or at English Professional Development Days. And it’s not as if I am afraid of making a fool of myself. I love to tell stories and really bad jokes and wave my arms around in an animated way.

Me “being animated” during my speech at my retirement party.
  Was it because after 29 years of teaching, this blogging thing was a symbol of this new phase in my life? Seriously, I had been going to school every day of my life (except during holidays and for a few years during which I took that disastrous career detour I mentioned in my last post) since 1962. That’s a looong time!
My grade 1 picture. Circa 1962. Still remember and love that red plaid dress.
And this new phase was …well…new. And something different for me. Teaching was something at which I knew I had been successful. And retirement…well…how do you even define success at being retired? And I had been planning to write a blog for sometime but life got in the way for a while. And then there were no more excuses. Time to put my money where my mouth was. And that brings me back to Wednesday January 15. And pressing that “Publish” button.

When we had “Publishing Days” in  my writing classes, they were without doubt the quietest and most intent I ever saw my students. For 75 minutes they read and wrote quietly. At the end of the class the kids always rushed to the front of the room to take back their work and then scurried to their seats to read the comments from their peers. And you know what? Those comments were almost universally supportive. Other kids commented that they had had similar experiences to the writer or that they thought a particular part of the story was cool. What a pleasure it was to see those young writers smiling with flushed faces over the comments. How awesome they felt that they had communicated their ideas to others and those others had understood and responded to their work!

That’s kind of how I felt on Wednesday…all flushed and smiling…as I metaphorically scuttled back to my seat to read the comments on my first post. And the comments were, well, like applause. And just like the kids in my class… how awesome I felt!

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