The question is how to
not cross the lines.
From being involved 
Intentions for balance
skew, tilt, teeter, dissolve.

The question is how to
step back without detaching.
Flowing not submerging.
Dethroning the trump call of work.
Disconnecting the known cord.
Over the summer, I took part in Book-a-Day, an initiative launched by Donalyn Miller (author of The Book Whisperer). Every participant was asked to set a personal goal of how many books they would read over summer vacation and to keep track of it.

At first, I thought I would try for every day and read over 70 books. Yet, my count obsession began to overshadow the enjoyment so I settled for a best effort with the goal to just read everyday.

My seven-year old niece decided she, too, wanted to challenge herself.  Her goal: fourteen books. I inwardly cringed when M said she wanted to read the Holy Grail for so many early readers: “chapter books”. Although a good reader, M still had not developed the stamina to stay with lengthier text. She tended to abandon them after a few chapters.

Kicking aside my aunt persona, I launched into my Reading Specialist role and talked about: choosing just right books; building stamina; how it is not the size of the book that counts; and how we read for enjoyment, etc. M looked dubious. Against my territorial teacher instinct, I decided to lend her a stack of my recently-acquired picture books to get her started (and, I admit, to convince her that picture books were not just for babies.)

M, I discovered, had a competitive streak. She checked in periodically to tell me how easy this was for her. With glee and an eye roll, M announced her sister had only read two books. By summer’s end, M beat her own goal and logged in 25 books.

I thought I would surprise M with a book to acknowledge her achievement. When I called her father, I found M had other ideas. She told her family that I had promised her a dollar a book and that she would be getting twenty-five dollars. My mouth dropped. M then proceeded to tell my brother that “really, I should get $30 because I am worth it”.




Last week, a five-day power outage prevented me from slicing. And the strangest thing was that I missed writing.

When we talk about identities in our workshops, my perception is always that I am a reader. Writing is what other, more creative, people do. I sympathize with the students who struggle to write. It is hard. I could (can) never meet a deadline and the process was (is) hard. It is no exaggeration that two paragraphs represent (-ed) at least eight hours of cross-outs, starting overs, and doubts. I have never just sat down and whipped anything out. 

Back in March, when I started to slice, I still viewed myself as a reading person. My aim, again, was not to Be a Writer, but a teacher who would be in a better position to help student writers. I felt it unfair to ask students to write, if I didn’t.

The daily challenge, which turned into weekly, propelled me to write. Did the process get easier? No. Did my pace ever pick up? No. I would spend so much time on these pieces, l often had to read and comment other postings the next day. 

Yet. I began to think of things I could write about as I pursued typical daily activities. I took note of what other slicers did. I started figuring out, in my head, different ways I could write about something. As I read, I wrote down interesting words. And finally, finally. ..when I read, it was easier to notice the craft involved. 

The act of writing on a continual basis shifted my perception. I am still a reader but one who has begun to think like a writer. This is what I want to tell my students. It will happen to them, if they keep writing.