Putting a Pin In It

*this post is dedicated to J.O., who never ceases to inspire me, and who also reminds me how important it is to be the best version of myself*

Here I am, back after what is way too long a hiatus from writing.

What’s kept me?

Inertia, pure and simple. I wasn’t in a space or place to do the digging I needed to do as a writer. Maybe that means that I saw work, turned tail and ran away. Or maybe it means that I chose a model of self-preservation that allowed me some grace.

Potato, potahto.

So…what’s brought me back?

Let’s start with a letter a student wrote me. 

At the end of each year, I ask my fifth graders to write me a letter reflecting on their experiences in my class. What have they learned about language arts? What have they learned about life?

I gather up the letters and I place them in a safe spot, awaiting a time in the summer when I’m feeling particularly low, when I could use some encouragement to remind me why I do what I do.

This one letter, from a student I have had for five years, wrote an incredibly kind, heartfelt note that left me, quite simply, speechless. If I ever have any doubt about the impact I can make through earnest and sincere relationships with kids, I must promise myself to read her letter.

And then she mentioned one particular blog post that gave her inspiration. 

It hit me.

Writing is a path to self-expression for me, yes. But in my students’ eyes, we are cohorts, peers. Writing alongside my students reminds us all that we are learning together, that I have as much to gain from them as they might from me. 

Besides. Writing is hard. Crafting something in a genre we’re not comfortable with requires courage. Sharing that writing demands bravery. It’s only fair that I ask the same of myself.

Watching my successes and struggles with writing validates the challenges they face in trying to put something new out into this world. Our shared experiences bring me credibility and respect – neither of which I take lightly.

So for her, I write.

And for me, I write.

It’s good to be back.

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4 Responses to “Putting a Pin In It”

  1. Fran Haley Says:

    -LAINIE!! So good to see you back and to read your words. It is like plunging into an ocean wave and letting it wash over, bracing and free… I go through spells, too, where the energy or the mercury or whatever doesn’t rise enough to spill on the page (or screen). I love that a student inspired you to start again – and that the inspiration is circular. Ebb and flow…writing is so like that. As is life. Welcome back!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Fran, it’s great to “see” you too! Grateful for your patience, your compassion and your friendship. Ebb and flow INDEED.

  2. Terje Says:

    How wonderful that you found your way back to writing. Pauses are natural. Wishing you and your students lots of writing joy!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! I like the idea of my absence being a pause. Kind of like a comma, or an ellipsis for those who like things fancy-pants. =))

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