Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's different?

Thanks to the photographer of this photo, Kevin C. Rose from AtlantaPhotos.com
Okay, this is something I get sooo very excited about. In the time it takes to sit down with a blank page or computer screen in front of us, meditate a bit and then labor a few moments, something -------often someone---- is born... Suddenly we have a new friend, hero, mentor, or villain....Created, nurtured, birthed upon the world. Friday I assigned original creative short stories to my students... 1200-2000 word ones (Lord, help me when I collect and grade them all). They must include all kinds of wonderful things and label such as personification, simile, 20 dialogs, and on and on... That isn't as exciting as it sounds. but most of my kids are having sooo much fun. I created "cheater helps" on little notecards if they got stumped, and these cards are filled with questions to provoke a character or setting to be "born." And by today I read the 300-word starts and the plot/theme summaries for all of them... Amazing! In only three class days I am friends with a haughty teen named Angel who spurns a black, gifted Lambourghini from her father because it isn't pink..... and suddenly is finding herself with a flat tire in front of a homeless shelter... Angel didn't exist three days ago, and she now has black, straight hair, hazel eyes, and an attitude.... I know Shushoon the meanest little raccoon in the forest; an abused teen milkmaid from the turn of the century in Europe, and a couple who met on the Internet and found true love.... It is soooo much fun to witness the birth of these guys... So I got to thinking... had I not assigned these January stories, Shushoon and Angel wouldn't be here... Writing is magic, actually..... I decided to look up someone who is realer than real in literary/Southern history.... in this case Scarlett O'Hara.... Above is "her " birthplace, the Mitchell home... And here is the timeline entry for why she (Scarlett) was "born."
---------------------------Margaret Mitchell---------------------------
1917 Falls in love and becomes engaged to Lt. Clifford Henry, a Harvard man in training at Camp Gordon in Atlanta. He is stationed in France and Margaret starts her first year at Smith College in the fall of 1918.
1911 - 1919 While at Smith, she receives word that Clifford has died. Soon after, her mother becomes ill, and Margaret rushes home to see her but does not make it in time.

1920 Makes her debut and causes a scandal with her "Apache Dance." She is refused admission into the Junior League because of the nature of the dance and because she chose to do charity work in the wards for the black and the poor at Grady Hospital.

Her Working Years
1922 She is surrounded by suitors, but Red Upshaw and John Marsh remain the top competitors for her attention. Margaret marries Upshaw in September of that year and the couple moves in with Margaret's family. Shortly thereafter, Red becomes abusive, and Margaret realizes he is both a bootlegger and an alcoholic. The two separate and eventually divorce. Margaret lands a job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal Magazine. She soon becomes the first woman to cover hard news for the Atlanta Journal.
1925 Margaret marries John Marsh on July 4 (she liked to tell her friends she was married on "Independence Day"). They host their wedding reception in apartment #1 on Crescent Avenue. A former newspaper reporter, John works as the editor of the Georgia Power Company magazine, eventually rising to vice president of advertising and marketing.

Writing Gone With the Wind

1926 Margaret is forced to quit her job at the newspaper because of arthritis in her ankles and feet. She spends time at home in bed, reading voraciously. John, tired of lugging books home for Margaret to read, brings her a second-hand portable Remington typewriter with the words, "Madam, I greet you on the beginning of a great new career." John's thought was that because Margaret had read basically every book in the public library, she should write her own book. Margaret begins composing what her friends jokingly call, "the great American novel," writing about what she had learned from the many stories her elders had told her as she was growing up.
So, -------------one never really knows who can join us by dinnertime tomorrow.... Frankly, my dears, this mystery is one of the most exciting things about teaching.... Have a great night....

1 comment:

Julie said...

What an amazing post! I know how much I enjoy writting, but especially working on a project where I was a witness and am trying to put on paper every sight, sound, scent, and feeling so the reader actually feels as if they were there with me!