Ghosts . . . And the Power of a Good Sentence

“The ghosts are still here.”

Well I’m hooked. What a fun first sentence from Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson! I’m especially glad because this is a book that I am otherwise not drawn to. I’ll be honest: I just don’t care for the fantasy genre. But I’m reading it because I’m a high school English teacher, and I know I need to be familiar with all genres. There’s nothing better than being able to know my students and figure out a book they’d like.

And more than once, I’ve had students come to me first thing in the morning to tell me that they read the book (woo hoo!) and loved it (what??). It is the best.

Anyway, thank you, Pearson, for writing a great first sentence. The eerie simplicity of the sentence surely foreshadows the complexity that is to come. We’ll see! I will read the entire book, I promise.

So why a blog post about first sentences? Because they are fascinating! Think of some of your favorite books, and go look up the first sentence. You’ll be surprised at how much goes into that sentence, and sometimes you realize how much only after you finish the book. Do something for me right now:

Open up whatever book you’re reading right now, and write the first sentence in the comments below.

I’ll also share the first sentence from the other book I’m currently reading: How Not To Die, by Michael Greger (a must-read, by the way). Here’s his first sentence:

Imagine if terrorists created a bioagent that spread mercilessly, claiming the lives of nearly four hundred thousand Americans every year.

Pretty good, right? Especially for a book that basically goes through research studies that have been done on diet and disseminates them. Maybe not the kind of writing style you’d choose for a summer read. (Side-note: Yes, this book dumps a ton of information on you, but I have been quite impressed with the writing style. I genuinely enjoy reading it.) And if you’re wondering, Greger uses the first sentence as a lead to his chapter on coronary heart disease and how many lives it takes each year (you guessed it: nearly four hundred thousand).

There’s so much riding on that first sentence.

I can imagine authors wanting to give up before they’ve even begun.

And that’s how I felt about starting a blog. I hemmed and hawed and fretted . . . and worried way too much about what other people thought. It was only when I decided to write for myself that my fingers relaxed enough to tap keys and form sentences. And if other people read it? Bonus! (Two of my friends scoffed when I told them I had started a blog: “Ten years too late!” . . . “It’s only podcasts now.”)

But what I’m discovering is that if I write about something deeply important to me, more than likely someone out there will resonate. And even if it’s just one connection, it’s something. That’s special.

And you know what else? The written word is a beautiful thing. I would be a hypocrite to believe that and not be writing on a regular basis. In fact, one reason I started a blog is I felt convicted to. I’m in the classroom every day telling my students all about the beauty and importance of writing when I’m not disciplined enough to be doing it? (Note: For me, journal writing wasn’t enough. I needed something to be published. And whether or not I have a readership, I need to know that others might read what I write.)

But back to first sentences. Hey, are you a teacher? Do you have kids? Do you talk to other humans? Talk about first sentences. What clues do they contain? What words? What’s the verb? What kind of sentence is it? Is there imagery there? Does it belie what’s to come? (Thinking of Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” here: “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.” OK, Jackson, we see you. Spoiler: MURDER AHEAD.) What’s the vibe (in teacher terms, “mood”) of the sentence? Is it narration? A character speaking? Ah, I love teaching. (Can you tell?) I love how Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea begins with a compound sentence sans comma (gasp!). Take a look:

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT HERE! So much, in fact, that perhaps I will use this first sentence as an essay prompt for my 9th-grade students at the beginning of the year (they read Old Man — and a YA novel — for summer reading). First of all, the sentence is a mouthful, stuffed with prepositions, an adjective clause, and two independent clauses — all with no pause (no comma) to take a breath. Taking that into consideration when looking at the mostly-negative diction (“old,” “alone,” “without”), we can feel the immensity of something here. Futility? Despair? Loneliness? (Spoiler: it’s none of those.) And now I’m excited all over again to reread it this summer.

But maybe what I most appreciate about first sentences is the application to life. Starting my blog was one of my first sentences, but there have been many in my life. Deciding on my master’s degree. Working in retail to pay the bills. Teaching that first day. Deciding to have children. Having first child. Some sentences have been better than others, but even the terrible ones are beautiful because we learn from them.

Life is pretty cool like that.

And as we continue living (and getting better at it), we learn how to get better at our first sentences. I like thinking about what it is I love about actual first sentences of books and applying those same qualities to my first sentences of life. So in that way, I like to go forward in new directions in life feeling:

  • Confident
  • Strong
  • Well-equipped
  • Efficient
  • Vulnerable

So — whether you’re a reader or not — take a moment and thank those first sentences of books for the life lessons they provide. They teach us to be confident, strong, well-equipped, efficient . . . and vulnerable.

They teach us that sometimes simplicity is best.

That sometimes you don’t realize the significance until the end of the book.

Wanna Write? Turn On the Faucet.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” –Louis L’Amour–

What a great visual to the writing process! Through the analogy, L’Amour gives some simple advice for all the writers out there: just start.

I have thought about blogging for years now. I have put it off and put it off — and I don’t even really know why. But isn’t that like us all? Oftentimes in life we don’t even have solid reasons for what we do (and don’t do).

I blame it on the Keep-Your-Life-So-Busy-You-Don’t-Have-Time-To-Think Syndrome, KYLSBYDHTTT Syndrome for short. As Chandler Bing would say, “Could we have busier lives?” Even when we are forced to take a break from life (sitting down for a quality poo for one example), we still take our phones with us! And I bet there are people out there who have checked their phones mid shower. So when we’re not scrolling on the phones, why do we feel the need to fill our lives with so much work and so many activities?

What is our busyness actually preventing us from doing?

I remember years ago when I worked at Pier One Imports, my manager would talk to me about how she wanted to lose weight but hated going on walks. She hated walks, she said, because when she walked, she would think. And then she’d get sad. So instead, she kept her life busy working extra shifts, singing in the community choir, and reading books at Barnes and Noble. Working and singing and reading were certainly not paving her road to Hell, but they were keeping her from facing reality. When the activities we do are good (and maybe your activities include working out — great!), we justify doing them — even if they are preventing us from really thinking about our lives.

But why is introspection so avoided and feared? Perhaps when we look inward we begin to realize that things aren’t 100% OK (this is reality, people). And then what? I see two potential responses here:

  1. We accept that things are not OK in our lives and just keep living, knowing things could (should) be better.
  2. We make changes. We make changes so that we can have better lives.

Clearly the second response is better. But change is hard. It takes effort. And honestly? It’s easier to just stay busy, which is what most people do.

But we don’t have to be “most people.”

So in our thinking/introspecting/writing journey, the first step is to be less busy. Let’s give our brains a chance! And as L’Amour references the faucet, I think it starts in the bathroom.

I’ll tell you, as a teacher, I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m sitting on the pot (sans phone) or taking a shower (also sans phone). So I really appreciate the analogy of turning on the faucet — and in my mind it’s the shower faucet. Here’s a beautiful thing about our brains: they don’t really ever turn off (well, maybe if you watch The Bachelorette). It’s no wonder that mankind has accomplished such feats century after century. It’s like God created our brains to be faucets that are always turned on, water running. But sometimes it seems we’re doing everything we can to turn the faucet off. Here’s how:

  • being phone zombies
  • being TV/computer/iPad screen zombies
  • scheduling our days to be full of activities
  • using our kids to justify scheduling our days to be full of activities
  • working ridiculous hours
  • always being with people
  • cleaning house

I am totally guilty of several of those, and I think they probably prevented me from starting this blog years ago. The thing is, there are always going to be activities that we prioritize over quiet reflection. Right now I could easily be vacuuming my house. With two furry dogs and three (not furry) boys, the floors in my house sometimes feel like a walk on the beach — a sandy yet furry beach. But I’ve decided to (try to) ignore the floors and let my fingers tap keys.

Writing, like reading, is something I think every human should do. It’s amazing what happens when we force ourselves to write. I preach this to my students all the time (after nagging “Keep your pencil moving!” during various writing activities). Often with writing, we can’t predict where we’ll go. I normally write with my students, and even after 14 years of teaching, as I write about a passage from a book we’re reading, I find myself analyzing it in ways I never would have predicted had I not written down my thoughts in sentences. It is seriously magical! And aside from the magic, it’s exercise for our brains! Win win on that.

Magic and exercise — how can you say no to that? So now it’s time to decide how you’ll do it. For me, starting a blog was the accountability I needed. But for others, keeping a journal might be the way to go. If you’re a teacher, you better be writing when you’re asking your students to write. (Even if you’re not an English teacher — the horror!) Let’s help each other out:

  • How do you make time to think and write?
  • In what format do you write?
  • And finally, how does writing make you feel?

For me, I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile — for myself and hopefully others. But at the end of the day, I know I need to write, regardless of how many views or likes or comments my posts get. Because when I write, my brain gets to play. The pace of my day slows, and I come away feeling invigorated. And you know what? My floors are so incredibly patient. They don’t mind if I hold off on vacuuming.

So turn on the faucet, and let’s do this. How? Check it out:

  1. Be less busy. Unschedule yourself.
  2. Allow yourself to think. Peel yourself off the screens, and use the bathroom by yourself.
  3. Put pencil to paper. Or fingers to keys (thumbs are for the space-bar). Or stylus to — ew, no, don’t do that.

Happy writing, everyone.

Are you a human? Then do better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” –Maya Angelou–

Preface: The second in the series (read the first post here), “Are you a human” seeks to dive deeply into the human psyche to address issues like reading books and being a good person. Read books. Be a good person. Like I said: deep stuff.

First of all, Maya Angelou, we’re not worthy (*drops into deep bow*). What simplicity! What grace! What truth! If you know me, you know that I — along with Ernest Hemingway — appreciate simplicity. And the Angelou quote takes the cake. She begins her sentiment by using the superlative best. Already this is great advice for all humans: do the best you can. Are you running a race? Do the best you can. Are you taking a test? Do the best you can. Are you playing Super Mario Uno with your kids, trying not to rip out your hair? Do the best you can.

But that’s not where it ends, friends. There is a qualifier (also known as a subordinate clause, or dependent clause, or adverb clause — gosh, don’t you love the English language?) in this sentence — reader, beware! Angelou says to do your best until you know better. Now doing your best is good — but only to an extent. If you realize that training more than the few miles you ran the week before will equal running faster, then doing your best isn’t good enough anymore. If you realize that studying by making quiz questions instead of just “looking over the notes” will equal a better score, doing your best isn’t good enough anymore. And finally, if you realize that more quality sleep each night will equal more patience (less hair ripping) during Mario Uno, doing your best isn’t good enough anymore. Dang, life can be complicated.

Old habits die hard. It’s a cliche for a reason — because it’s true. As students, as teachers, as professionals, as parents, we get into the rut of what-works-well, and we just stop. We’ve got a system that works, we’re good at it, so why change things up? Yeah, that’s a tough question. Why change when things are working?

Because if we can be better and do better, why wouldn’t we?

So let’s get off our lazy butts and start by making the damn bed. Nothing starts the day better than a freshly-made bed (well, that’s not entirely true . . . a fresh cup of coffee and a clean kitchen are also contenders).

Now that that’s taken care of, we can get down to business. I am an adamant believer that if you’re a human, you can find something to be “best” at. Remember the Alan Watts’ lecture on what to do in life if money were no object? It’s worth a listen. He starts with a simple question: “What makes you itch?” Think about that for a moment. Then read his next thoughts:

What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him “You do that! And forget the money!” Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.

You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living – that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you are doing – it doesn’t matter what it is – you can eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way of becoming a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much, somebody’s interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others who are.

Whoa. Find something you love doing and be your best at it. And then keep learning and keep being your best at it.

Here’s the thing, though. We don’t always know what we like doing. When I was an undergrad, I thought I knew for sure what I would love doing: being a teen therapist. I plowed through my psychology courses — genuinely loving them — and didn’t even think about taking on a minor. That is, until my husband (then boyfriend) told me to minor in my other love: English. I had some credits from my AP exams, so I was already on the way. I enjoyed my English courses but didn’t think much of them in terms of my life and career trajectory. Then I graduated and needed a job. Because of all the English credits I had, I qualified as a private school English teacher. When I landed a job at a small private school, I was glad mostly because my husband and I needed to show proof of employment to be able to rent an apartment. Hooray — on our way to becoming real adults!

That first year of teaching English, I thought This is it! I love this! I’m good at it! But my rational side didn’t give in so easily, so I proceeded in my graduate program to eventually receive a master’s degree in Evaluation, Measurement, and Research Design from Western Michigan University. Through my graduate studies, I continued teaching, realizing more and more that teaching English is what I loved.

So I made a decision. I’d teach, yes, but I’d be the best I could be at it. I devoured professional development books and still to this day have a special affinity to Jim Burke, author of The English Teacher’s Companion. I remember reading and rereading it every year at the end of the summer in preparation for the new year. It was that good. (Thanks to my high school English teacher/mentor Michael Kanda for the recommendation all those years ago.)

I remember thinking I never want to be a teacher. But when I stepped into the classroom as a teacher, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. And even through its ups and downs, I’ve never stopped loving teaching. In my quest to always be my best, I vowed to remain confident yet humble. I advise you to do the same. When pride creeps in, we tend to get stuck.

So whatever you do, do your best and stay humble. And if your life takes a weird turn and you find yourself in a [fill-in-the-blank-for-the-place-you-said-you’d-never-be], embrace it.

It might just be your opportunity to be your best.

Until you know better.

Are you a human? Then I have a book recommendation for you.

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.” –William Faulkner–

I don’t even like Faulkner. I am an English teacher, and I don’t like Faulkner. I own it. His writing style is too dense for my preference, and that’s OK. It’s a beautiful thing to have the freedom to read whatever we want and have an opinion on it. But the bottom line is that we’re reading.

Because we don’t simply read for reading’s sake. And if you think that’s what you’re doing when you read, well, you’re wrong. When we read — whether we acknowledge it or not — we absorb. We absorb new-to-us diction, a variety of phrasing and sentence structures, unique narrative styles, and I could go on and on. HOW COOL IS IT TO READ AN AWESOME BOOK AND BE SUBCONSCIOUSLY LEARNING AT THE SAME TIME? Love that. My poor (lucky) students get to hear me rant about that all the time. When students tell me oh, I HATE reading, I take on the challenge to find something they’ll like. And I take it very personally. I WILL FIND SOMETHING GOSH DARN IT JUST GIVE ME A LITTLE TIME (and maybe tell me the last movie you watched and really liked because I’ve found that to be quite helpful).

I like the Faulkner quote because it is a clear challenge for us. Do you write? Do you blog? If you do either but don’t find the time to read, I think Faulkner would call you a hypocrite — an unskilled hypocrite. I think he speaks truth when he says that to “see how [writers] do it,” you must read. Read to become a better reader, yes, of course.

But read to become a better writer.

But I’d like to take the Faulkner quote one (crazy) step further: Do you interact with other humans? Do you have a pulse? If either question applies to you, then you should read.

Oh, but you don’t have time to read. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. (Excuse my while I finish dry heaving.)

That’s ridiculous. Of course you do. If you want to read, you have time to do it. 15 minutes before bed is all it takes. The sleep research even tells us what a great idea it is: reading before bed (on a print book, not a screen), helps communicate to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep land. How lovely!

If you do actually want to read, here’s what I do know: we as humans are really good at making time for what we want to do. (Like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. OMG, an hour has passed — what is my life.)

But what if you don’t want to read because — gasp — you don’t like reading? Then I’d like to issue an apology (something I’ve done every blog post so far: here, and here) on behalf of your parents and the Literary Prude English Teachers of America (LPETA) . I am betting that some of you weren’t taught that reading is something to do for pleasure. Or maybe your schedule was kept so busy (for your college resume, amiright?) that by the time your head hit the pillow, you were out. Or maybe you had English teachers and professors who refused to release their talons from the “classics” (you know, the ones that the students hate or don’t even read — or the ones where they think just squeezing in some SparkNotes for those pesky reading check quizzes will suffice). Now there’s nothing wrong with the classics, don’t get me wrong. But if that’s all the students get? Yeah, good luck getting them to be lifelong readers. One size does NOT fit all.

Being an English teacher myself, I think I’m allowed to say that it’s stupid and antiquated to think that literary fiction (i.e., the classics) is the only kind “worthy” to be taught in schools. Come on, English teachers, stop being pretentious, literary prudes, and live a little! It’s OK for students to also read commercial fiction (I see you, literary prude, who noticed that split infinitive). It’s not the end of the world. If we teach only literary fiction, most of which is — let’s be honest — kinda boring, what is the takeaway for students? That most books are kinda boring. WHAT A DISSERVICE THIS IS TO THE HUMAN RACE.

May I admit something to you? That pretentious, literary-prude teacher I spoke of? That was me. That was me for the first few years of my naive teaching career. I’m embarrassed, but looking back, I see that I was just trying to be one of the Literary Prude English Teachers of America (i.e., compensating probably for my own insecurities). I was the English teacher who would scoff at commercial fiction, trying to convince my students that only scum of the earth read it and that The Scarlet Letter was God’s gift to the literary world (I can’t stand The Scarlet Letter, BTW). But the worst part of it all? Even as I was basking in my English Teacher Pretension, I wasn’t reading. Not really, anyway. I read the books my students were required to read but not much else. Well gosh, that’s embarrassing.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Stephen King

So whoever you are — student, novelist, blogger, adult, teacher, or any other kind of human — support your local library, pick up a book (or 7) for free, and read. Let’s read to make ourselves better. Let’s read to make others better. Let’s read books that are uncomfortable to us. “Read, read, read,” as Faulkner simply (for once, might I add) states.

So if you’re wondering where to start, here’s an aside of some of my favorite book recommendations, organized by genre:

  • YA/adult fiction: Beartown, Fredrick Backman
  • Historical fiction: All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  • Non-fiction/writing: Writing with Style, John Trimble
  • Non-fiction/science/humor: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Mary Roach
  • Poetry: Felicity, Mary Oliver
  • Graphic novel: Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  • Short stories: Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Classic lit.: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  • YA: Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
  • Adult fiction: A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  • Memoir: Educated, Tara Westover
  • Novel in verse: Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds

I hold firmly to the belief that if you are a human, there is a book out there that you will enjoy. Maybe it’s at a lower reading level. Maybe it’s a graphic novel. Maybe it’s a novel in verse (lots of white space!). Maybe it’s young adult fiction and you’re . . . fifty. Maybe, as Faulkner recognizes, it’s trash. But it’s there. And, man, what a world opens when you get to dive into a good book. There truly is nothing like it.

So get off your phone, and find it. Consider it an adventure! A journey to a new world! It will be fun! Do it! (And then friend me on Goodreads.)

~~What I’m currently reading: (1) A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer and (2) How Not to Die, Michael Greger~~

Summer Solstice and Daisy Buchanan (spoiler: she doesn’t die, physically anyway)

“Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”

Two great sentences here today, especially since we just celebrated (did you?) summer solstice yesterday. Don’t worry if you missed it. Daisy misses it every year!

In chapter 1 of Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the iconic Daisy Buchanan asks the question and immediately proceeds to answer it. Profoundly. So profoundly, in fact, that I’ve decided to use her question-answer form as an equation for some other quandaries:

“Do you ever think I could be unloading the dishwasher right now but will continue watching Netflix? I always think I could be unloading the dishwasher right now but will continue watching Netflix.

“Do you always squeeze the toothpaste from the middle knowing it drives your husband crazy? I always squeeze the toothpaste from the middle knowing it will drive my husband crazy.”

“Should I go on with the profundity you see exhibited in these questions and answers? I could go on with the profundity you see exhibited in these questions and answers.”

You get the idea: The monotony of the sentence mimics the monotony of Daisy’s life. I remember the first time I read it, thinking that I could actually hear the boredom and apathy oozing from her voice. I still hold to that, and — come to find — it actually has a name: Affluent Apathy Syndrome (pronounced “ass”). Poor Daisy just doesn’t know what to do with herself. She has everything she thought she wanted but is still unhappy.

Ah, don’t we all watch and wait for something to happen just to miss it? And then languish over it? And then try to make up for lost time by finding our old lover, getting back with him, realizing even that isn’t doing it for us, running over and killing our husband’s lover, letting the blame fall on our (now old) lover, not attending our old lover’s funeral after he gets shot in a pool by our husband’s lover’s husband, just to start all over at square one with our misogynist husband?

Relatable.

What a beautiful little fool Daisy is. And while she may believe that a beautiful little fool is the best a girl can be, on behalf of Daisy, I’d like to apologize to all the women out there. Because we’re much more than that. Daisy watches and waits for Gatsby, her solstice, but sooner than later realizes the sticky situation she’s in. There’s so much buildup to Gatsby — the parties, the lights, the glitz, the glamour, the money, the fresh-squeezed orange juice, the shirts. She’s watching here. She knows the solstice is coming. And when she and Gatsby finally come together, on the “longest day of the year” of the narrative arc, what happens? True to the narrative style, the action begins to fall. The days immediately begin to get shorter. And she’s missed him, or the idea of him anyway (let’s face it, our ideas are often better than reality).

Time keeps beating on.

And beating on, and beating on.

And if our happiness is contingent upon reaching some goal, attaining some thing, etc., then we’ve missed it. But what, you might ask, is it?

Well if that’s not the million-dollar question, I don’t know what is. I’ll share that for me, my it is choosing to believe that there’s more to life than us. That there is a perfect God out there (right here?). That perfection may not be attainable for us, but that it’s out there. That we can strive towards it. And the beautiful (and ironic) thing? We can’t ever actually attain perfection in this life … so there’s no chance in missing it! An active “watching” for perfection I think is where happiness sneaks in. We won’t be sitting around, buoyed up on an enormous couch like Daisy. We will be active, going in the right direction, trying to do good along the way.

Humans (Gatsby) will let you down — just one reason I choose to believe in God. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want my narrative to end in futility:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Happy summer solstice, friends. Even though we missed it.

Ernest Hemingway and Shitty First Drafts

“The first draft of anything is shit.” –Ernest Hemingway–

I thought it fitting that for my first official post, I use this gem from Hemingway. I have an affinity for Hemingway because he reminds me of my dad: crass, pessimistic, depressed, and with a penchant for alcohol. Already we’re starting with the warm fuzzies!

But really, what I love about this quote is its simplistic realism. If we’re being honest, you know that Hemingway would despise blogs. Blogs give any schmuck the freedom to publish first drafts of pure, stinking shit. And as I write this post, my older boys are running around hitting each other with pool-noodle light sabers, my 4-month-old is fussing in the next room, and my husband is making smoothies on our super old (LOUD) blender. Not exactly the kind of environment Hemingway would probably prefer to work through draft after draft to reach literary gold.

As I begin my blogging journey, I need to remember Hemingway’s words for two reasons:

  1. I move into this process knowing that I will try to write truth. Because of the nature of my life, I probably won’t get to compose draft after draft of my work. But with Hemingway’s words ringing in my ear, you better believe that my “first drafts” will be as good as I can make them.
  2. I will be humble. Always humble. I think Hemingway can at least appreciate that.

My life may not be conducive to finessing each word I write, each phrase, each punctuation mark, each sentence, each paragraph. Yet this life is what I have. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I certainly respect the writing process (trust me, I do — I’m a high school English teacher, remember?), when it comes to life, we only get one draft.

And while it may seem shitty sometimes (literally: changing poopy diapers, anything having to do with potty training — both older sons pooped inside my home, one pile on the rug in front of the toilet, one pile in the middle of the living room), it’s our beautiful life that we get the privilege to live.

So I say to Hemingway’s sentiment in regards to life: EMBRACE THE SHIT!

And when it comes to blogging, I’d like to issue an apology on behalf of us all. Hemingway, dear Hemingway, you have left us a legacy of meritorious literature and six-toed cats. Meanwhile, we sit at our computer, thinking we’re the shiz, publishing shit shit shit. May we try to do better. May we look over our drafts before publishing. May we consider our word choice, phrasing, sentence structure and length, and punctuation (used for style, not just grammar). May we remain always humble and think about others above ourselves. May we enter this blogging world and make it better.

May we blog with dignity. And rise above the shit.

Amen.

About Sentences

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” –Ernest Hemingway–

There is something magical about good sentences. Writers are the creators of new thought every time we phrase words and punctuation together. Dang, that’s cool. And a bit of a power trip. So when I come across a good sentence, I have nothing but respect. This blog will essentially be an ode to good sentences. They will be the starting point for each post, and from there, we’ll discuss all kinds of fun tidbits: from life to love and everything in between. I enjoy getting rabbit-holed just like the next person, and I imagine the tunnels on this blog will run far and deep. So if you have an appreciation of the English language like I do, sit back and relax. Let’s jump in.

Sentence by sentence.