Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Struck by Lightning!

No, not literally, but it sure felt that way.

I watched Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank yesterday on cable and was struck by an awesome thought.  But first, the movie.

If you haven't seen it, it's the true story of Erin Gruwell, a teacher who goes into student teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA back in 1994.  She was assigned the most "at risk" kids, the gang members, the kids who are threatening teachers with guns.  The ones who have no interest in learning.  And through her unorthodox methods, she turned her class of kids around to the point of every single one of them graduating high school and many of them going on to college.  She managed to get kids interested in learning after she distributed journals to allow them to express themselves in any way they desired with no threat of anyone in authority ever knowing what was written there.  She took on a second and third job, just to be able to provide her kids with books that the school system refused to let them use because they didn't believe the kids could even read them.  These were kids that the system had given up on.  But Gruwell never gave up.

At the end of the class, she managed to somehow get donated computers and had the kids put together a book from their journal entries.  The book, The Freedom Writers Diary, was published in 1999 and Ms. Gruwell went on to teach at the college level at California State University.  Many of her students went on to become teachers themselves, after being inspired by this one woman.

I have thought a lot about how much my teachers have influenced my life.  There are two that stick out in my mind - my world history teacher, who I had for two years, and my band director, who I had throughout my high school career.  Both of them inspired not only me, but many other students.  I've seen the comments on facebook from old classmates and these are the two teachers that are most remembered from my high school as being the "good" ones.  And they made up for the chemistry teacher who made me sit in his lap and gave me good grades for wearing short skirts and the math teacher with the sour face who accused me of cheating off of another student's paper and called me out in front of the entire class.  Was I cheating?  No.  I was a straight A student and I would never have done that, but that teacher made math a bad experience and I suspect she is the reason I had no desire to further my study in that field.

Anyway, the big idea.  After I watched the movie, I realized that not only did I have journals of my own, I have been writing this blog as a type of cathartic exercise since I got fired from my job last October.  How interesting would it be to go back to 2007 (as far back as I've kept my blatherings) and type up all of my journal entries, add the blog entries (including the ones I've deleted because I thought they were mean spirited) and bill it as a memoir of my own struggle with fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder?  The illnesses are glaringly evident in my handwritten journals especially and it's not a pretty narrative, since I only tended to write when I was feeling particularly bad about something. 


It's not a bad idea to get all of that down in one place and see just what course my health, both physical and mental, have been taking over the past several years.

So, if I'm a little slow on the blog entries, please forgive me.  I don't know if this is a sellable idea, but I'd like to see if I've got something here.  I believe there are many people suffering from disabilities who are unable to work and very isolated socially.  Would it help them to know they are not alone?  It would help me, so I have to think it would help them. 

Would a publisher be interested?  I have no idea, but self-publishing is certainly gaining ground.  So, off I go to see just how bad I was feeling back in 2007 and to put all those words I wrote out onto the word processor.  I wasn't doing that great with trying to write a novel anyway.

I promise to keep checking back with you, though.  This is my daily journal and I doubt seriously I could stay away from it for long. 

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