Essays, Random Rants, Religion

Transformation is hard

Human shapes
Human shapes (Photo credit: mripp)

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, day-by-day, and often over the course of months or even years. If you are trying to transform your life, you can’t allow yourself to be discouraged a day, or a week, or even several months into the process. It isn’t going to happen just because you tell it to. Your new life must slowly become a habit before it can become a real and lasting change.

Don’t waste time worrying over how far you have to go or how little you might have accomplished by today. Instead, wake up each morning and ask yourself, “What can I do today to be a better person than I was yesterday?” Maybe that means you will eat one less cookie today than you did yesterday. Maybe that means you will write five more words today than you did yesterday. Or maybe you will decide to say one less curse word or be just a little less cranky with your kids. Whatever it means for your life, just think how far you will have gone a year from now if you continue to be a little bit better each day. Continue reading “Transformation is hard”

Cooking, Essays, House and Home, Memoir, Travel

Bread is my DOC (Drug of choice)

Pain au levain, a French bread
You just can’t find a decent loaf of bread in most American bakeries. | Pain au levain, a French bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like bread. I always have. If you mention my bread lust around my mother, she’ll nod her head and say, “Yes, she always did like her bread.”

When I was a kid, my parents did most of our grocery shopping at Aldi, where the bread was mass-produced and over processed. We usually ate white bread because it was the cheapest, but once in a while, my dad would bring home several loves of oat bran bread when it was on sale and stash it in the deep freezer.

The oat bran bread was my favorite. It never lasted long, because I would sneak into the kitchen several times a day and snag a handful of slices that I would take outside with me and chew on while I wandered around the woods on our property. For some reason, I liked to pull the oat bran bread apart and roll it into little balls before I ate it.

Yeah, I know. I’m kind of a weirdo. Continue reading “Bread is my DOC (Drug of choice)”

Essays, Novel Writing

What are you going to finish today?

English: Spiral made of Floppy discs
I have about a million of these floppy discs containing business and management essays from both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business and management. I’m considering editing all of them and putting them up on an informational website (complete with ads to generate revenue.) If only I had a floppy disc drive. | English: Spiral made of Floppy discs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re like me, you probably have at least a couple of projects laying around unfinished. If so, then like me, your major goal for 2014 might just be to get shit done. Seriously.

I get a little overwhelmed when I consider all of the projects I started in 2013 and didn’t finish. I want to finish them all. I want to finish writing my current WIP and the one I started for thesis last spring. I want to revise the novel I completed for the summer writing challenge in 2013. I want to publish everything (even all of those business essays I wrote so long ago that they are sitting around on floppy discs.)

When I think about it, I have many great projects that are not only started, but are also nearing completion. For me, 2014 will be more about completing projects than it will be about starting something new. Although, I suppose actually finishing something will be new for me. HA!

Anyway, it is useless to sit here psyching myself out over the mountain of work I have ahead of me. So why do it? I can only do one thing at a time. So. What do I want to do first? That’s the real question begging an answer. Continue reading “What are you going to finish today?”

Composition I, Essays

Tuesday writing prompt: An illustrative essay

family christmas present opening
My childhood was full of family. That’s me in the middle with the candy cane hanging out of my mouth.

Today, my English Composition I class is learning about the Illustration pattern of essay development. According to aa-essays.com, “An illustrative essay (or exemplification essay) uses examples to show, explain, or prove a point or argument (the essay thesis). The key to a good illustrative essay is to use enough detailed and specific examples to get the point across.”

Writing Prompt

What was your childhood like? Write one explicit thesis statement that sums up your childhood. Then write an illustrative essay that includes either one long illustrative example or three to five shorter illustrative examples to support your claim. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: An illustrative essay”

Composition I, Education, Essays, Writing Prompts

Tuesday Writing Prompt: School Lunches

Cover of "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions...
Today’s writing prompt was inspired by Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. | Cover via Amazon

Today my English Composition I class is learning about description in preparation for the descriptive essay they will write for next week. Descriptive writing incorporates all five senses:

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Smell
  4. Taste
  5. Touch/feelings

I like to include “feelings” with number five, as it is often important to describe how something makes you “feel” in addition to how certain elements might “feel” to the touch. Just remember, it is equally essential to “show” how something makes you feel rather than “telling” your reader about it. So, try to avoid using the word, “feel” in your writing.

For today’s activities, I am borrowing a writing prompt from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Continue reading “Tuesday Writing Prompt: School Lunches”

Composition I, Essays, Writing Prompts

Tuesday writing prompt: Your proudest moment

Educational Resource:  "Writing process"
Educational Resource: “Writing process” (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

This week in my Composition I class, we are continuing our journey through the steps of the writing process. Last week, we discussed prewriting and choosing a thesis. I asked my students to do a freewrite in which they considered whether pride is a virtue or a vice. Then we worked together to come up with a thesis statement for an essay they will write on the topic of pride.

Today we are moving on to the next two steps in the writing process, which are (according to our textbook) “Supporting the thesis with evidence” and “Organizing the evidence.” We will continue to generate raw material for our pride essay as we work through each step. So, this week’s (and probably next week’s as well) writing prompt will be a continuation of the prompt I gave you last week. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: Your proudest moment”

Composition I, Essays

Tuesday writing prompt: Pride

Day 34 - Essay and Notes
It’s time to write an essay! And no, that’s not me in the picture. It’s just a generic Zemanta image of someone I don’t know. | Day 34 – Essay and Notes (Photo credit: Auntie P)

Hello, all. It’s week two of my Tuesday afternoon English Composition I course. I have promised my students that we would be doing a lot of writing in class this semester, which in turn means I need to come up with some writing prompts for them. Since I’ll be generating writing prompts each week anyway, I figured I may as well share these prompts with you!

Today we begin our discussion on the steps of the writing process by covering prewriting and thesis statements. The plan is to have my students write one essay, step-by-step, over the next couple of weeks while we learn about the steps of the writing process.

With that in mind, today’s writing prompt is designed to get them (and you!) to think about and generate raw material for an essay on the topic of pride. Continue reading “Tuesday writing prompt: Pride”

Education, Essays, Novel Writing

Make teaching and learning part of your writing process.

The Longman Writer: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook (8th Edition)
This semester, I am teaching out of The Longman Writer: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook (8th Edition.) You can buy a copy here.

This semester, I am teaching one section of English Composition I at my local technical college. This is not a course I particularly care to teach. The first semester I taught it was a disaster. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I definitely didn’t know the material well enough to teach it. It was a horrible experience for everyone involved. This semester, I finally feel like I kinda know what I am doing. And it’s having a positive impact on my writing.

Tuesday was our first day of class, and I killed it. I was well prepared, I knew what I was talking about and best of all, the students were engaged. I left class that afternoon thinking, “Where the hell did that come from?” Continue reading “Make teaching and learning part of your writing process.”

Education, Essays

Criticism: How to be constructive rather than destructive

English: Students working with a teacher at Al...
How do you provide criticism to a student without destroying his or her sense of self-worth? | English: Students working with a teacher at Albany Senior High School, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most important – and most difficult – parts of teaching is providing constructive criticism without destroying a students’ belief that he or she is capable of succeeding in school.

I recently started reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and am working through some of the exercises she presents in her 12-week course. This morning’s task was to write about three old enemies of my creative self-worth.

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had a lot of encouragement of my writing endeavors throughout most of my life, so it was hard for me to think of three. Then I remembered my high school Rhetoric tea Continue reading “Criticism: How to be constructive rather than destructive”

Essays, Reading, Writing Prompts

Writer’s observation: Reading is FUNdamental

Out to lunch signMy latest writer’s observation assignment was to go to a crowded environment to people-watch and capture the atmosphere of the place. Here’s my attempt:

Hard benches line hall, buzz of machinery – maybe the heat system? – behind locked doors, one woman alone at the end of the bench by the door, checks her Facebook on her phone. Spotted, filthy gray carpet.

Woman gets phone call, talks loud. “Yeah, everything is all about him, it always i Continue reading “Writer’s observation: Reading is FUNdamental”