Today’s #writreat Tweet prompt, which asked us to post a quote about writing, was actually a huge help in getting me inspired to start my project for this retreat. I chose to share this quote from Frank McCourt’s memoir ‘Tis because it speaks to how powerful each individual’s life stories are, even if they don’t always realize they have something worthwhile to share.
I have to admit, I sometimes wonder whether my voice matters in academic conversations about the education system because I’m relatively inexperienced (both in my profession and in life in general), so the above passage was a good reminder that every person—even (or perhaps especially) those who aren’t traditional, established academics—has a wealth of unique, diverse experiences that is worth exploring through writing.
Finding this quote was also a useful exercise because it forced me to review two of my favorite memoirs: ‘Tis and Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (and, if you’re taking my memoir recommendations, you should check out Angela’s Ashes, too). As soon as I read today’s prompt, I knew the exact passage I wanted to share, so I flipped through both books, searching for this specific scene. As I skimmed the pages, I remembered why I fell in love with McCourt’s honest, poignant, and hilarious writing style, and I started to get a sense of what I want my own texts to look like.
My plan during the retreat is to write about my own teaching experiences during some very turbulent times, and, although I know that whatever I produce will never be able to match McCourt’s distinctive voice, I’ll definitely take inspiration from his brutally honest recollections of the frustration, uncertainty, and vulnerability that comes with teaching high schoolers.
The discussion our group had in breakout rooms this afternoon also helped me start to solidify a plan for the rest of the retreat. I’m going to take Dr. Zamora’s advice and select a few specific moments from my (very long) list of challenging, surprising, funny, and uncomfortable teaching moments to expand on in short vignettes. Hopefully, writing a few distinct short stories will help me gain a better understanding of my feelings toward and my place in the education system.