born to write?

I have always found it funny that people will agree that an athletic talent is just that–a talent. People are okay with saying that some people are born with natural abilities to run, jump and play. They will also acknowledge that training–even with the deepest of desire– will only get some people so far.

The thing that strikes me as odd is that people will argue to the death that this is not true about writing. Anyone can learn to write.

Do I agree? Yes and no. It really depends upon what type of writing we’re talking about.

I teach two standard 10th grade English classes, a Creative Writing course, and advise a Yearbook staff that lets me inject a little Journalism into my day once in a while.

So, yes. I do think anyone can learn to write–academically, that is. Academic writing is very formulaic. It is based on a set of rules, a general format, and the ability to think and analyze. It is one of my biggest pet peeves to hear a student say I’m just not good at writing. All that says to me is I just don’t want to bother to learn rules of grammar and spelling. And I really don’t want to research anything. And, more importantly, I don’t want to think about what I just read.

Do I think anyone can learn to be a journalist? Yes. That is also very formulaic. It relies more upon tenacity and quickness than anything. But when I think back to my days in college and memorizing the entire AP style book, I realize there are a host of rules there, too. The good journalists know them well. The great journalists have that “it” factor. The thing that allows them to convey humanity in a way that moves other people. That, I have to think, some people are born with.

And for the last element, can anyone write creatively? Yes, of course they can. With the same attention to structures and styles and grammar and spelling, of course anyone can write creatively. Here’s where I truly believe some people have a talent that others do not possess. Of course, they also have to work to develop it, but they start with a lot to work with.

The best writers in my English classes are those who are well-read and who work hard. They proofread. They write multiple drafts. They use a dictionary. Basically, they’ve studied and learned a skill.

But the good writers in my Creative Writing class have talent. Pure and simple. They have a creative spark and drive. They have a masterful command of their writing voice. They have ideas and stories to tell. The greater writers in this class have mastered their craft. They utilize punctuation to their advantage. They have a broad vocabulary, and they use it with ease.

They are the athlete who doesn’t need to practice, rarely shows up in the gym, but can still dunk a ball in the net without any trouble.

the longest running break

After almost a year of training, including some cross country coaching at a high school, my running life has come down to this:

A foam roller and a yoga mat.


I woke  up the Monday before my Sunday race in November with a pain in my left knee that I recognized from something I struggled with in my right knee when I first started running. When I look back, I probably shouldn’t have run 13 miles on it like that.

So, now three months later, I’ve probably run 1 mile total. I wake up most nights with a stiff knee. And I am beyond frustrated.

I –and the trainer I work with (at school, not personally)– am fairly sure it’s an IT band issue. So, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. The problem is that out of frustration or laziness, I haven’t been doing it.

Which brings us to last week. Running has been an incredible gift for me. I’m a better writer, sister, daughter, friend, and teacher when I’m running. I have less stress. I sleep better. I eat better. I’m just all-around a better, happier, healthier person. And I realized that part of my increased stress levels in the past month have come from this lack of exertion.

So, I’ve started. Slowly. Stretching out the side of my leg. Working with this foam roller. And trying to get back into some sort of shape so when the moment does arrive that I can run again, I will be ready.

I’ve decided upon the Nike Training Club workouts (on an app for the iPhone) and the Insanity Cardio routine. I’ve been alternating these thus far to see what my knee can take. The first week was good. I’ve targeted the key tight spots in my leg and am working on them.

Now, the keys are focus and ignoring frustration.

#febphotoaday: Week 2

Actually made it through another week!


Day 14: the Valentine's post, I assume. But the topic was "Heart."


(what Valentine's Day actually looked like for me)


Day 13 was blue. It was also a day after rain, so the sky was the perfect choice.


Day 12: Inside my closet. The rest of it is a mess, but a stack of baseball caps was perfect.


Day 11: what makes me happy. No shoes. Long drives. Coming back from a wedding in Riverside.


Day 10: self-portrait. This was hard to do with my phone!


Day 9: a front door. To the school where I teach.


Day 8: Sun. Easy.

Photo a Day…for a month

I’m going to skip the obligatory why-I-haven’t-posted-in-a-month post and just jump right in and say that after failing at a 365 photo project a couple of years ago (I think I lasted 3 days), I think I might have found a project I can stick with. First, it only lasts a month (although, I assume it can be done again next month as there was one in January). Second, you’re given topics for each day. I know that seems like the lazy way to go about it, but in some ways I do believe that it stretches your creativity to interpret and execute a prompt (at least, I have to think that because I’m a teacher). And third, I was introduced to it by a friend on Instagram (you can follow me at: janateresa). That makes it very easy and very convenient–no extra camera, no uploading, no fuss.

So, this is the first week of February:


My View






A Stranger




10 a.m.