Five out of Five Hundred

6:42 PM Posted by Heidi

I read somewhere that a writer looking to break in to the Blogging business should practice writing 500 words daily, especially if said person is out of practice with their craft. Well, I have 461 to go.

This reminds me of Freewrite in Larry's English class. It was the mid-90s, and I was a teenage recovering addict in a school for kids like me. I suppose being surrounded exclusively by kids going through the same process made it easier to stay sober, never having experienced otherwise, I'll never know if that's really the case, but that was the idea, and it worked for me. So, hooray.

As it were, the teachers at my high school wouldn't last a day (and some didn't) unless they had a thick skin and could remember what it was like to be our age, while also somehow managing to gain our respect enough to hold our attention and, heaven forbid, teach us things. Larry was the best of the best. What set him apart was his ability to teach us what we wanted to be taught. I got lucky and graduated just before the No Child Left Behind act was put through and Larry had to start teaching from a national syllabus that completely destroyed the unique flavor and joy of his class.

Seem like I'm rambling? It's called Freewrite, and it's what we did for the first 10 minutes of every class. It was back when we used crazy things called notebooks and pens to write with in school. At the end of the year Larry gave us our file full of the year's Freewrites and essays and papers that we'd written in his class. You could tell a lot about how you were feeling any given day by the doodles on your work. Ahh doodles. Do people even know what doodling is anymore? I mean, you can't doodle on a computer while your brain wanders. I could start making ASCII pictures, but that's more effort than it's worth and I doubt it'd look good anyway.

Freewrite. The best tool for opening your writing brain, chilling kids the hell out after between-class break, and getting a peak into the minds and hearts of your class. On Wednesdays Larry would pass out a printed sheet with his favorite Freewrites that the class had done that week and we'd sit around a table (there was only 10 students per class) and take turns reading eachother's writings while eating Larry's famous homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I always had such anticipation waiting to see how my poem or story would be recieved by my peers. I think it's not too cocky of me to say they usually liked them well enough. Freewrite Wednesdays, my favorite day of the week.

What am I at now? 471 words? Good Lord I thought there was more.

Larry made me want to move to San Francisco and become a Beat Poet, even though the Beat Poet movement had been over for 30 years or so. He made me want to read horridly boring books like A Tale of Two Cities, though I never did, but I wanted to because I loved English that much. So, here's to you Larry and Freewrite, where ever you may be.

557 words and one Freewrite down!


AnjeeMai said...

Ha ha! Cool. Writers Workshop was actually a collection of writings that we (not Larry) picked to put in for review - either with our name or anonymously. But yes, those days were grand.

You know that every so often I meet up with Larry and Katy and my parents and whoever else fancies to come? We talk and eat gluten free, meat free snacks. We started in 2004, meeting every 2 weeks, researching then discussing topics of all sorts (from agriculture to economy to spirituality) ... eventually the plights of the world weighed on our souls and we started meeting just to catch up and hang out. You should come some time and we can read stuff we've written. It'll be like old times.

Larry Schmidt said...


Those were good days for me too. I'm honored to be mentioned in your blog.

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