BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Am I Really A Writer?

I like to think of myself as many things. Some of them are irrefutable. I am a mother. I am a teacher. These are simple facts. I have a son, therefore I am a mother. I go to work each day and spend the day teaching fourth grade students, therefore I am a teacher.

What else am I, though? And how do we verify these different identities?

Lately I’ve been a writer. How does one become a writer? By writing, some would say, but many others would say that one becomes a writer only when one’s writing has been published. Even that definition isn’t sufficient for many people. I’ve heard the argument that in order to be considered a writer one must be published and paid for one’s writing.

Well, I do write. And I have been published. I publish here, in my own little corner of the internet, regularly. Nobody pays me for it, though. I’ve also been published on other websites, like Scary Mommy and Education Week. Again, no money in that, but to me it’s still pretty cool.

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My design!

I have actually been paid to write. Not much, but I’ve submitted tips to a teaching publication that have been published and I’ve been compensated for them. I also designed a fish quilt that not only made it to the cover of Quiltmaker, a well-known quilting publication (it’s an inset photo, but hey, it’s still on the cover), and the design was turned into a kit complete with gorgeous watery indigo fabrics and magentas and purples for the fish. I was paid for that too, not much, but still they cut me a check. That one, however, wasn’t really a writing win, even though I was published.

I’ve been writing for NaNoWriMo, too. I finished a manuscript during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and I’ve been revising it with help from my critique group (another thing real writers do, I’m told). Now I’m into a new one story, about a young English teacher who needs to solve a mystery that threatens the security she’s found amongst the quilters she meets in a small town. See what I did there? Teaching, quilting, things I know and like.

I also teach writing. I teach it to my fourth graders, sure, but I’ve been teaching it in the summer too, for the past three years. Kids from seven to seventeen have come to these camps, and working with them as they explore the creative side of writing has been such a privilege for me. We’re not focused on grammar, structure, or spelling in these camps. We’re focused on imagination, empowerment, and risk-taking. We’re helping kids to develop their voices through their writing, whether in a poem about a leaf or an ode to their dog or a comic about super heroes and villains or an introspective look at their own strengths.

This type of writing is so powerful for kids that I’ve begun an after-school creative writing club at my school that is well attended. Both boys and girls come in to write and share their writing, blasting the stereotype we sometimes hear that “writing is for girls.” I’m sure Stephen King, James Patterson, Dav Pilkey, Neil Gaiman, Alberto Ríos, and many others would disagree.

So yes, I’m a writer, even though you won’t see anything I’ve done on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and if you search me on Amazon you’ll come up empty. I’ll keep at it, though, and maybe someday you will see my work there. Maybe someday soon.


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Throwback Thursday – Stitchery

I’ve loved to work with fibers and textiles for as long as I can remember. When I was in second grade I made a challah cover out of purple felt. I think my mother may still have that project, somewhere. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at lots of different types of stitchery projects, and some I’ve truly loved. Here’s a trip down memory lane via needle and thread (or yarn or floss or something)

1. Crewel embroidery. I was a child of the seventies and one year for my birthday I received a crewel embroidery kit full of burnt orange and avocado green threads along with a giant embroidery needle. I think I made a mushroom or something.

2. Needlepoint. At summer camp we would make our own designs on the canvas, then tape up the raw edges with masking tape and go to town. I remember one particular bargello (zig-zag) pattern that I especially enjoyed.

3. Macrame. So maybe this doesn’t really belong in this category, but it is made with fibers. I made dozens of tiny twisted bracelets at summer camp over the years.

4. Stamped Cross Stitch. You just follow the lines printed on the fabric. What could be easier? Still, I wasn’t super impressed with the finished products. My mom still has her stamped cross stitch challah cover, though.

5. Counted Cross Stitch. Now this was a pastime I loved. I stitched on linen, I stitched on cotton, and I stitched on baby clothes. I found it soothing and I liked the end product, especially old fashioned looking samplers.

6. Garment Sewing. I learned to sew in seventh grade Home Economics class. Next to typing and junior year English,  it was the most useful class in school. I made two prom dresses, a velvet and tafetta gown for a ball, children’s clothing for my little cousin, and numerous other items.

7. Rug hooking. Again I’m not sure this really counts, but I did it. I did one project, and I found it tedious. Of course it was an ugly pattern with ugly yarn, not the type of beautiful project that crafters make these days.

8. Knitting. I tried. Really, I did. So not my thing.

9. Quilting. My love. I don’t do nearly as much of it as I would like, but I have made hundreds of quilts over the last couple of decades, and I adore my fabrics, patterns, and volumes of quilting books and magazines. By the way, I designed the Bubble Fish pattern in the photo above. It ran in Quiltmaker Magazine in 1995, and they made it into the kit you see above. I never actually sewed that quilt, I just drew it out on graph paper and mailed it in (remember mailing?). It won their ongoing design contest, and the rest is history.