In approximately 45 minutes, the annual National Day on Writing will commence. Tomorrow my students will answer, “How does writing connect you?” and we’ll post these on the bulletin board right outside our school’s main office, but tonight, I write about how writing connects me to others.
My first vivid memories of writing to connect are letters. I wrote letters to a family friend in California. When she passed away from CF, I continued to write to her dad, my own dad’s buddy. Recently Gordy returned a few of the letters I had written when I was around 13. What a humorous trip back in time to my own middle school years. It certainly helped me remember my priorities in life at the age of 13. I shared those letters with a few close colleagues who all smiled and said, “You haven’t changed.” I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but considering I teach 13-14 year olds, I’ll assume it a compliment and the reason why I connect to middle schoolers.
Writing continued to connect me to other friends and helped me make new ones. My connection to a pen pal in fourth grade named Paula however, dissolved quite quickly. As I heard a retired colleague talk a few years ago about her 40+ year relationship with a pen pal in Australia, a twinge of regret surfaced that I had stopped writing to mine. Why? Did I get too busy to jot a quick note? Did I get lazy? Did I not understand how writing connects us to one another? What I do know is this: the realization of how powerful writing can connect people came for me during my NWP Summer institute in 1999.
NWP nurtured, and continues to nurture, my writing and helps me build friendships. I continue the paper and pencil writing, but have moved into the digital age too. Look, this blog helps me connect to others. I believe the NWP’s foundation of “teachers as writers” certainly increased the likelihood of my relationships with NWP friends to not fade away, and they haven’t. I not only stay in touch with NWP friends, I continue to make more. What a wonderful commonality to have–an understanding of the power of writing. Tomorrow, I will wear my “Writing Connects Us” NWP t-shirt instead of my usual celebratory Green Bay Packer shirt. Packer fans certainly have a common bond, but it just can’t match the connection between writers. So join us and #write2connect. It official starts in approximately 10 minutes. You’ll probably make a few new friends, and maybe you’ll even reconnect to a long-lost one too.