March SLO: The Breathings of My Heart

My father and grandfather built the house I grew up in when I was two years old. The house wasn’t completely finished when we moved in, and the closet in my bedroom remained unpainted for several years. That vast, empty expanse of sheetrock became my own personal graffiti wall. I can barely remember what I drew on those walls. If I wrote anything, it was the scribbles and loops of an emergent writer. Of course this drove my mother crazy, but I wouldn’t stop. I had a story to tell!

Humans have always been compelled to tell their story. Recently discovered cave paintings in Spain were made by Neaderthals, our close ancestor, at least 65,000 years ago! In his novel Waterland, Graham Swift writes, “Man—let me offer you a definition—is a storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker buoys and trail signs of stories.” Those handprints deep inside caves around the world are the ancient equivalent of “Kilroy was here.”

Hand stencils in Maltravieso Cave in Spain made at least 66,000 years ago. (H. Dollado)

I stopped scribbling on my closet wall once my father painted it, but I’ve always filled notebooks with what Wadsworth calls “the breathings of my heart.” I love the joy I feel when I uncover a forgotten memory or make some other discovery about myself when I write. I love the clarity writing brings to my thinking about relationships, work, and the world around me. For the next month, I’ll be joining hundreds of writers and teachers around the world delve into the mysteries that writing uncovers as well tell our stories, one slice at a time. I hope you’ll join us.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

6 thoughts on “March SLO: The Breathings of My Heart

  1. I love when you said, “I love the clarity writing brings to my thinking about relationships, work, and the world around me,” You articulate this so well and it makes me feel so optimistic about the next 31 days! I’m excited to see how your blog will be another closet door for you- all of your ideas swirling in one place!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a sweet memory of you. I imagine the child you were writing scribbles and swirls on the wall. I love the quote and want to share it with my students today as they start this slicing journey. What has emerged for me today in slices I’ve read is the theme of writing as discovery. That’s what this month long marathon is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a beautifully structured piece, Catherine. You’ve woven the thread of writing through a childhood memory, Neanderthals, and the present day. I enjoyed reading about what writing is to you and share the joy of writing as a tool of discovery.

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  4. What a powerful invitation! I love how you weaved your writing history with the writing history of man. And what a number to try to comprehend – 65,000 years ago…just think what the total number of stories even written must be!! I’m glad you and I get to share 31 of them together this month. Also look for me at TC on Sat!!

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