Coffee, Books, Reflection
The ideas in this article relate to Donald Murray’s article “Writing and Teaching for Surprise” originally published in College English January 1984.
Sometimes, when I write, ideas hide in the dark crevices of my subconscious unwilling to be coaxed out. Other times they jump to the front of my mind in a jumbled mess I can’t sort out. Sometimes an idea, an image, or a line sneaks up on me and I have to grab a post-it or the back of one of those annoying magazine flyers and jot it down until I can transfer it to my writer’s notebook to let it fester until it becomes something real. Those moments always take me by surprise and make me yearn to go to a writing place and figure out why that image struck me so. Murray’s article explores the idea of writing until the writing surprises you. Writing until the idea takes a life of its own and takes the writer to a place of surprise. The patient search for surprise keeps the writer coming back for more. This idea makes sense — when writing brings us joy, we’re more likely to keep doing it.
An aspect of Murray’s article I see coming across in modern writing about teaching is the idea of the “public write.” Murray talks about going to the board and writing in front of his students–much the same premise both Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle have written about in their recent publications. I’ve purchased both of those books, but I haven’t had a chance to really dive into them so I will need to look into this farther later.
The views on this blog are mine alone and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.
Kari teaches English I to 9th graders (!) and other electives in rural Iowa. Her husband is also an English teacher, and their friends have sworn to never help them move again because "even libraries don't have that many books."