Slice of Life: Not Failing


Yesterday, I summoned up all my courage and submitted a collection of poems to a writing contest. Then I came home and worked on a poem for Laura Shovan’s annual daily writing prompt project. This year’s theme is Found Objects. Here is the object for February 1st:

Photo by Robyn Hood Black
Photo by Robyn Hood Black

Laura posted this photo on Friday. On Sunday I’d written a draft—which is the object of this month-long writing adventure—then went about the many other tasks on my list for the day.

After a busy day at school, errands, and grocery shopping, I sat down to take a quick look at my draft before I posted it on Laura’s website. As I read, I had a sinking feeling. I convinced myself that my poem was terrible and not worth sharing.

Fast forward 24 hours. I spent the day watching my students take risks reading words they didn’t know, explaining their thinking about the theme of the book they were reading, and drafting nonfiction books. I marveled at their persistence and courage. They inspired me to come home and share this poem:

Nested within
the musty confines of
this worn pine box,
rubbed smooth
from years of use,
a cache of pencils
wait in silence.

Inside their graphite
a cacophony of words,
some sweet, some sour,
are poised,
eager to escape.

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

After all, in the words of Ray Bradbury, “You only fail if you stop writing.”

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Not Failing

  1. I am so glad you posted. We have to hold each other’s hands in this writing journey. I’m writing my drafts in the sticky notes on my laptop, less commitment somehow. I love thinking of the pencils waiting to write.


  2. “…a cacophony of words . . . are poised, eager to escape.” I love this phrase. Persistence and courage learned from our young writers. My students were the impetus for me finally joining Slice of Life in 2012. It’s wonderful how they inspire us.


  3. I love this, Catherine, those pencils waiting. I’m so glad you’re going to join in. It’s been a lot of fun. And congratulations for entering the contest. Best wishes!


  4. Catherine, why do we critique our work and not think it has merit? Your poem is full of voice and definitely worthy to be shared. The first line caught my interest and the rest followed suit. Courageous choice to send this out for the world. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of Laura’s challenge.


  5. Love your poem, Catherine, and I’m so glad you shared it! It reminded me of W.S. Merwin’s poem, The Unwritten. I’m fascinated by the potential of a pencil and love the image you crafted of words poised to escape. I’m trying to find those words and participate in Laura’s challenge as well. It’s fascinating to see the different directions people take with their poems. I look forward to reading your other entries.


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