The other day I gave two workshops at the HSC Adventures in Homeschooling Conference in Sacramento. Speaking about writing with people who actually seem to want to listen is one of my favorite things, right up there with sweet peas, and Conor Oberst warbling in my earbuds. I love it when people raise their hands mid-workshop, to share a personal story about their kid that proves one of my radical notions about writing. I love it when they rush up afterwards, or sidle up shyly, to ask a question or to let me witness a fabulously melodramatic sigh of relief.
And I love this especially: Between workshops, I drove over to some nearby shops for lunch. Pulling into the parking lot, I trawled past a man who had been in my workshop, walking alongside a woman, presumably his wife or partner, who was slung with a baby and holding the hand of an older child. Being Sacramento, it was hot, so I had my window down, and I could hear the man talking. And he was talking about my workshop, with a tone I would have to describe as enthused. I continued through the parking lot, turned into a spot, gathered up my bag and started rolling up my window, only to hear the family walking behind my car. The man was still enthusing. It was the sweetest gift, like someone had left an anonymous bouquet on my desk. I put my hand over my heart. I couldn’t help it.
I wish I could speak with all of you in person. Barring that, I want to offer you something here. I want to offer words that might occasionally, if I’m lucky, get you talking too fast to someone you love.
I want to know what you’d like to see here. Talk to me, dear people!
- my typical musings on writing and kid-driven learning: The rambling ones that I usually write, which have you following me down the convoluted path of a crazy notion, with some random inspiration (Hawkeye! Bon Jovi! Verlyn Klinkenborg!) to keep things interesting.
- how-to posts: I have a love/hate relationship with this type of post. You know, How to Do __________ in 5 Easy Steps. Supposedly digital readers like numbered lists, and posts broken up with lots of headlines, but that sort of writing always feels so bloggy to me, so ooh-I’m-making-a-numbered-list-so-you’ll-be-more-likely-to-PIN-it! I also feel uncomfortable blatantly telling people how to do things. I’d rather give you some basic ideas and let you fill in your own blanks. Still I can’t deny that posts I’ve written in this style–posts like How Do Kids Really Learn to Write, My Handy-Dandy Process for Helping Kids Write Nonfiction Based on Other Sources and Host Yourself a History Fair –have been some of my most passed-around posts.
- personal essay-style posts: These would be posts not about writing per se, or learning, but about life in general. Random musings that might even, if I do them well, make a reader think or feel. They’re the format I love writing most, but I’m not sure they’re as popular with readers. (Too wordy! No practical application!) Still, if I want to make the point here that writing matters, perhaps I should go beyond writing about it, and sometimes just do it myself. (You can read some of my previously published personal essays here, if you’re the sort who likes wordy writing with no practical application.)
- blog series: I’ve done a few of these. The Dictation Project series, and the recent Become a Writing Mentor to Your Child series (for which I still plan a few posts in the fall.) After giving my workshop based on How Do Kids Really Learn to Write, I’m considering a series aimed at busting each of the myths from that article, one at a time, as I do in the workshop.
- a question post: This is something I’m planning to do soon–a post in which readers can ask anything they wonder about kids and writing, and other readers and I will do our best to offer suggestions. The idea is that the post would be linked in my blog sidebar, so readers could continue to add to it, and it would evolve to be the Dear Abby For Parents With Concerns About Writing.
- virtual writer’s workshop posts: A new idea I’m tinkering with. Basically, I’d occasionally post kids’ writing here–submitted by you–and you and I would offer positive feedback on the writing, as encouragement for the young writer, and to practice our workshop feedback-offering skills. It would be a way of showing you how wonderful and simple a writer’s workshop can be.
- a forum: I’m curious about whether a forum about writing might be useful here. It would be a place for people to post questions or share their experiences about their kids and writing, and for readers (and me) to respond. I’m not sure whether there are enough readers or interest here to make such a format viable. Also not sure whether it’s something I’d have the time to manage.
- teleconferences based on my workshops: This idea came up recently when tweeting with a Twitter friend who said she wished she could come to one of my workshops. I have no idea how to set up one of these things, and even fewer ideas about whether readers would actually want to participate in one.