Well I declare

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is making declarations. Specifically she is declaring herself an author, making it clear what her writerly intentions are. I also have declared my writerly intentions. In previous posts, here, here and here, I shared my goal of establishing a website with early childhood teaching resources of my creation.

In her post Charli expresses it this way: success for her is publishing books. She wants to write books for readers who want to read them. Not only that, she wants to market her books “well enough to eat more than hand-picked dandelions from (her) yard”.

Change books to early childhood teaching resources and, for me it’s the same. I want to publish teaching resources that teachers want to use, that enhance their teaching and improve children’s learning. I’d also like to do well enough to not be reduced to eating dandelions from my backyard.

Some writers consider “educational writing” less worthy and lacking in creativity. “Oh educational writing,” said one disparagingly, “that’s so prescriptive,” and quickly moved on to discuss others’ more literary pursuits.  

I know some educational writing can be prescriptive. I have done some of that formulaic writing myself. However the resources I am creating do not conform to a formula, are not worksheets to be completed by students sitting quietly in rows.

I am developing a variety of resource types, some with interactivity, to help develop understanding and skills in a meaningful context. Many encourage critical thinking, problem solving and purposeful applications. Many are built around my own original stories and poems as well as non-fiction texts.

I have chosen this path in order to support teachers with ready to use teaching episodes and parents with suggestions for nurturing their child’s development. Prescriptive? Far from it. And please don’t prejudge my educational writing against the stereotype of formulaic worksheets and textbooks which are far too abundant and easily accessible on the internet and in bookstores.

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

From the declaration of writing goals to a declaration of another kind, repeated often on my blog: my appreciation of all things early childhood, especially literacy and picture books, and the importance of reading to and with children on a daily basis.

The years from birth to eight, especially those before formal schooling begins, are crucial to a child’s development and have an enormous impact on future happiness and success.  It is during these years that basic skills and language are developed along with attitudes to self and relationships.

noisy nora

The picture book Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells is a delightful book about a middle child who fails to get the attention of her parents who are busy with the older and younger siblings. Finally Nora declares that she is leaving and never coming back. With Nora gone the house becomes unusually quiet and the family go looking for her. At last she declares herself back again as she clatters out of the broom closet.

(This information from Wikipedia explains why my cover differs from the one in the Amazon store.)

I took Nora’s declaration as the basis for my response to Charli’s flash challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) declare an intention in a story. Is it one person, a character speaking up or speaking out? Is it a group or a nation? Create a tension before or after the declaration. It can be private or public, big or small. Does it have power to those who state it or hear? What does it change?

While I wrote it with Marnie in mind, it could be about any number of others in oppressive situations and seems particularly appropriate to those trapped by the horrors of domestic violence which is at the forefront of our news at the moment. Unlike Nora, who declared she was leaving and never coming back but didn’t really leave, Marnie definitely won’t be coming back.

from "Noisy Nora" by Rosemary Wells

from “Noisy Nora” by Rosemary Wells

Leaving

It was time. No more would they treat her this way. No more would she accept the cruelty of their world. She was more than this, more than they made her believe. With cash from a secret job stashed in her pockets, a few clothes in a backpack, and hope in her heart, she left. No need to follow a bag through the window. No need to wait for night’s darkness. No. She navigated past their stupor of beer, smoke and flickering screens; paused at the door to declare, “I’m leaving,” then closed off that life as she left.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

 

 

 

34 thoughts on “Well I declare

  1. julespaige

    Too many people end up making declarations – like: ‘I’m leaving’ and have to return.
    It is the strong person who with little or no possession leaves (especially) a bad situation.
    And this story also reminds me of so many immigrants that are trying to find new countries to live freely. And of so many grandparents and parents who were able to succeed.

    Cheers.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your interpretation of my story. There are many people leaving dreadful circumstances at the moment. I hope they will find kinder circumstances in the future.

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  2. writersideup

    Hi, Norah! 🙂 Writing what you intend to write sounds as creative and imaginative as any work of fiction even if it’s non. And I love how you write Marnie 🙂 Btw, I had the pleasure of meeting—very briefly—Rosemary Wells at the Princeton Book Festival 😀 You can see a pic on my recent WSU blog post! Yay! 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Say it Strong & Clear! « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I can’t imagine anything you write being prescriptive Norah but being of value to your target audience is, knowing your writing, a given. I’m breaking that scholastic writing mould as well so I know what you mean. My breaking the rules, however, could land me with a big F but too bad. I have argued why I am not doing it and that is that.
    Good to see such a positive Marnie closing the door behind her on her old life and glad to hear that determination that it is a door she won’t be reopening and stepping back through.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Irene. It is good to break the mould sometimes, isn’t it? Be brave and take a chance. Who knows what may come? I appreciate your encouragement re my resources. I hope there are a few people out there who will find them to be of value.
      I appreciate your support of this development in Marnie’s story too.

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  5. Lisa Reiter

    Great post and flash! A firm declaration of better things to come.
    And I love “Noisy Nora” – Better books down under I think! Appropriately, we once had a cat with the loudest purr on the planet called Nora. Lxx

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Lisa. I appreciate your comment. As much as I would like to claim it, Noisy Nora is by an American author, Rosemary Wells. Apologies for confusing you. Sounds like the title ‘Noisy Nora” would have suited your cat. I’m sure there were times when I was told to tone things down too! 🙂

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  6. Annecdotist

    Love this post, Norah, and can imagine how you’ll have enjoyed the picture book about your almost namesake! Your flash reminds me how we sometimes need to declare the changes we need to make to ourselves first and then it’s almost as if, having got the idea we’re already part of the way along to making that change – that’s how it tends to be for me, anyway.
    And as someone who’s followed your blog I can’t imagine your teaching aids being at all prescriptive. But definitely useful.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. I couldn’t resist a book with a namesake character. There is a famous (old) series of Australian stories based around a character called “Norah of the Billabong”. I liked them too; and I have another called “Norah’s Ark”. There are not too many Norah’s. You’d need huge bookshelves to hold all the books about Annes!
      Thanks for your encouragement re this development in Marnie’s story. I hadn’t quite figured out how or when she was going to leave – still haven’t figured out all the details – so it was good to have the opportunity to give it some consideration in response to this prompt.
      Thanks for your kind words re my teaching aids. I guess we all look at things in different ways. 🙂

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  7. macjam47

    Good morning, Norah. Loved your flash writing today. I’m so glad Marnie found the strength to leave her past behind and look for a better life.
    Best wishes to you in your published author endeavors. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Steven

    I quite like the utility of the second half of this story. Being limited to 99 words, it is using a significant length of the limit to essentially say that she left and they didn’t care. I think it is a clever expansion of this simple statement because it says this, but it also adds an extra piece or element to the story – the imagery of what somebody else may do in such a situation.

    I might be reading too much into it, but, “No more…No more… No need… No need… No”. That is quite definitive, with around 5% of the story being the word “no”. I don’t think she will be returning, particularly with the implied confidence of the spoken words, “I’m leaving”.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s an interesting comment, Steven. Thank you. You have pointed out the repetition. In 99 words perhaps there should be little repetition. I often wonder why I struggle to tell my story, when others tell so much. Maybe it’s because I repeat myself. Funny thing is, I cut out many other words, but left these in. I couldn’t see beyond, without them. I will have to be aware of other similar instances in future attempts.

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      1. Steven

        Oh don’t misunderstand… I was suggesting that the repetition in such a short piece was making a powerful statement, rather than using up valuable writing space. I thought it was most appropriate and effective.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Steven. I did get that you meant it positively; but it also made me see my tendency to repeat myself – something to be mindful of. 🙂

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  9. Bec

    Hi Nor, it’s great to hear of Marnie leaving for a nicer place. And glad that we already know she has some good times ahead of her. Sad that she had to be on her own, though. It’s amazing how a single statement can have such a profound impact, and can be the catalyst for major changes in life. Just a couple of funny noises from the throat!

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s an interesting way of looking at it – “a couple of funny noises from the throat”. There are many different combinations with many different meanings!

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