Dear Reader 4.18.21

Dear Reader,

Years ago, a friend said he stopped using the word ‘stress’ because it’s entirely made up and he got tired of hearing it. I mentally rolled over the word and the concept, as writers do, and realized that it’s a construct of our perception, not real–actions, words, people, and things can do things that elicit stress in us–if we choose to perceive them that way.

Over the last few years, I’ve ruminated over ‘busy’ in the same way. We wear busy like a badge, the busier we are the more important we appear to be, but being deliberate about our time and spending more of it on what matters to us, not our jobs or incidental things that don’t fill us up, doesn’t mean we’re busier, it means we’re more in love with our lives and the way we spend our time.

Every now and then, I think to add the word ‘crazy’ to my bank of words-not-to-use. It seems I use the word crazy almost daily, especially since the advent of this pandemic thirteen months ago. Despite my best efforts, it finds its way back into my vocabulary when something extraordinary and utterly unfathomable in the minute before happens. (Extraordinary and utterly unfathomable seems to be really wordy for something that’s merely crazy, you see…).

This week was crazy. The events that transpired among my teaching family and colleagues were so indescribably crazy that it’s simpler to use the word than elaborate. If you doubt this, here are a few nouns that were in my world this week: shattered glass, police, AR-15 and a pistol, blood, puddles of blood, state testing, lower body paralysis, a second set of guns, a lot of tattoos, a second paralysis, police reports, the memory and anniversary of a death, and more state testing.

Oh, and homemade muffins and yoga class, at the risk of those words being too much.

The incredible thing in all of this is that while I’ve gone back on my own rule of not using ‘crazy’, it’s inspired my writing in wild ways. I crushed out a micro piece over lunch, when I *never* write at school (my brain struggles with that transition). I went back into my notebooks and dug out three pieces I simply failed to final draft at the time I wrote them, polished them up and submitted them. I realized, while processing with a painter friend at the end of the week, that I currently have 12 writing submissions out to editors.

I’ve never submitted more than one or two things at once. I’ve certainly never had twelve in the queue.

12 submissions in one week is…well, you know…the word I will not say. But I will use it in a question: what’s been the craziest thing in your week, and are you writing about it? And as a teacher, I must ask the second crazy question…why not? As always, I’d love to hear about it, all of it, all of the craziness, in the comments.

Happy writing!



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