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  • Writer's picturecatherine@allaboutwriters


It's been great. I'd like this last challenge piece to be a shout out to those who have made this wonderful month of writing possible...inspired...enjoyable.

I'm a fairly new but proud local council member of ALEA Canberra, the local branch of the Australian Literacy Educators Association. At the inaugural ALEA Donald Graves address in 2012, beloved and acclaimed Australian author Mem Fox recalled the influence of Donald Graves on writing pedagogy in Australia. She made several excellent points, but there were two that made me squirm somewhat as I read them. Firstly, that only writers should be allowed to teach writing. Secondly, that writers need response to their writing.

I wasn't sure how I fit in either criteria. Was I even qualified to consider these things?Having now completed my first SOL challenge, I feel like I can say, with some insight, that these things matter.

I've come back to Australia at a time when schools are rethinking writing pedagogy. Many are looking to the work of Donald Graves to remind us what it means to teach writing in an authentic way. When I left Australia, we were deep in the abyss of genre-based pedagogy, and in fact when I recently completed my MA this was still offered, albeit in passing, as the pedagogical norm. I won't even start on the backwash of standardised testing on writing instruction. I felt that I the expertise I could offer schools around writing was timely. I learned from the best in my time in New York, and I wanted to share this with schools here in Australia. Becoming a part of the Two Writing Teachers community really affirmed this for me. Even more, taking part in the SOL challenge has given me a reason to write every day, as well as offering me an audience I never knew I needed or wanted. It's one thing to talk about this need to write every day, absolutely another to do it.

But how can I shout out the audience of slicers who have supported me? An audience I still have some trouble recognising, remaining awkward in this "sharing writing" thing. At the start of the challenge, I would momentarily reel in horror when a comment popped up on my blog. Let's face it, I still do to a degree, but the horror has been largely replaced by excitement to see how people react to my writing. What a supportive group. What value there is in audience. Special shout outs to Andrea for her continued support, which I now look for and so value. Also to my beautiful mother-in-law, not a part of the TWT community, but someone who religiously reads my posts when she wakes on the other side of the world in East Grand Rapids, MI, sending me a text comment. I'm still working on responding to responses to my writing. Maybe that's the next step.

This time of day, every day, for writing that I imagined would be impossible. This time each day that has proven to be findable. This time of day that I now feel would be unmissable. Even when I had stored a couple of slices up for days I predicted I might not be able to write, I still wrote. What began as frightening has become therapeutic. It's not been easy every day, and I've not posted what I consider a great post every day. But, as commenters have pointed out, writing has helped me clarify my thinking as well as allowing me to share stories from my life. Each day I share my writing with my own children who are respectful, even enthusiastic, about the time I need to write each day which has fallen most evenings at just about bedtime. They let me out early from reading, or read independently until I can come. I look forward to this time. I think through ideas during the day. I want to work on this. I enjoy it.

So on this 31st day of March, I send out thanks to those who provide this platform and associated push to write (and share) daily, as well as those who have commented and supported me. I've accomplished something great this month, regardless of the quality of my writing. And now I can refer to the wise words of Mem a fellow writer, dare I say it. Further, I can testify to the power of response to writing, I feel a better writer, coach, and teacher for this month if writing and responding to other writers.


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