|my secret writing hiding spot has grown...|
My own reasons for doing the project are a little different--while I am very interested in the events and processes that have shaped the writing skills of my students, I'm also very interested in encouraging them to be self-reflective: to think deeply about their own past experiences with writing and to make a path into their futures. I have found that, for many of them, their prevailing thought about writing has been simply, "Writing is hard, and I suck at it."
So...each day in class, we've been spending some time writing in journals about our writing histories, and I include myself in that because for much of the time that my classes are writing, so am I. Sure, I walk around and give encouragement and help, but I'm also scribbling in my notepad, and at the end when we share ideas, I sometimes tell them things that surfaced in my own writing that day.
Surfaced. It's funny how it happened--to all of us, I think. We started out thinking, "Oh, I don't remember anything about learning to write, or about writing in elementary school, or about best and worst writing moments as a child..." and then we started writing a word or two or ten or two hundred...and memories started bouncing up from the bottom. Memories of writing.
One of the memories that came up for me--something I shared with both of my classes--was about hiding my writing. For the first time in years and years, I remembered how my bedroom in the old mobile home my family lived in from the time I was in third grade until I started seventh grade had a secret hiding place under the carpeting near the heating vent. A little sliver of space where I could slide several sheets of paper, folded up into intricate shapes, where nobody would see the words I had written. Nobody would judge them; nobody would jump to conclusions or make accusations as I processed my thoughts the way I do best.
I remember that when we moved, when a big truck came and hauled our home away at last, I slipped one last sheet of paper into that hiding place. A letter, to the girl I imagined would live in my room after me. A girl who, like me, might find herself in need of a secret hiding place, and when she discovered it she would find my words waiting to welcome her.
Maybe a year or so later, I was talking to my mom about the day they came for the trailer, and I told her about the letter I wrote. She laughed and said we had sold the trailer for scrap, and I remember how embarrassed I was at the thought of some construction workers or something tearing up carpeting to find my earnest epistle to the imaginary girl with all the secrets.