Here are Parts 2 and 3 of the “twitterview” with Picking Dandelions author Sarah Cunningham! Here we discuss writing, favorite things, superpowers, and a word from The Emperor. Fun stuff!
Go here for Part 1 and a review of Picking Dandelions.
Part 2: On Writing and Teaching
@ShutterbugShann: Do you have times where you get “blocked” writing-wise? If so, what is your work through method?
@sarahcunning: I handle “blocks” different than other people I know. I don’t try to write through them. I don’t even try to write every day or even on a regular schedule. I write when I feel open and good and have big blocks of time.
@jen_rose: Now that’s writing advice you don’t hear much! Encouraging to those of us who can’t write every day. :)
@shutterbugshann: I like that advice about “blocks.” I too take days off from writing sometimes. I have believed freewriting to be great in that way. It allows you to get feelings/thoughts on paper and into the open.
@shutterbugshann: What is your favorite part of writing? For me, it’s dialogue. I love dialogue.
@sarahcunning: I mostly like writing based on observations from life that share learning with others.
@shutterbugshann: I have been wanting to write a “real-life” story, but being more of a fiction writer, I’m new to that… any advice?
@sarahcunning: Write about moments in life that felt “most right” to you. And right about pain/anger. See what lessons emerge.
@amrhodes what was the biggest lesson you learned while writing PD?
@sarahcunning: Mostly writing pd just made me more aware of how resistant I become to change without realizing it. Its amazing how we`ll cling to the familiar even when change makes more sense.
@jen_rose: You said you were a teacher… what/where do you teach? And how long have you been teaching?
@sarahcunning: I’ve been teaching for 7 yrs. Started in a charter school called daVinci. then a few yrs back, I transitioned to Jackson public w/my husband. I got bumped to the alternative h-school within this district. That has been a bit of a trip. Hard work but worthwhile.
@jen_rose: Yeah quite a journey! But a great profession (and still def a world-changing one! :)) What’s an alternative high school?
@sarahcunning: alternative high schools are options for students who aren’t successful in the traditional system. in this case, usually because of behavioral issues and criminal records. Jackson is the home of the state prison.
@jen_rose: What are the hardest and the most rewarding things about teaching there?
@sarahcunning: One of the hardest parts is seeing students make habitual choices that lead them thru cycles of hardship and confusion. Its difficult to see students locked up over and over again, in a system that doesn’t seem to rehabilitate many. No one wants to work in a holding tank.
The best moments r when students get a couple steps ahead of where they were when u 1st met them. When they begin to experience trust or become aware of the link between choices and consequences, or taste their potential. Success is in their increased well-being, not in ability to meet the “standard” for conventional education.
@jen_rose: Sometimes, I think we all have those times where our jobs – no matter how rewarding – feel so much like work and routine. And then something happens, and it’s like, “Wow, this is worth it.” Is there a story of a time like that for you that comes to mind?
@sarahcunning: I think the moments that mean the most to me have been when a “hard” student, who protects themselves from hurt by disconnecting from others, decides to feel again. To trust someone. To care a little. Its like a dead person coming to life.
Part 3: On Randomness
@jen_rose: Who are some of your favorite/most influential writers?
@sarahcunning: C.S. Lewis is at the top of the list. Then N.T.Wright, Anthony deMello, Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott…in no order.
@jen_rose: Oh yeah, you can’t go wrong with C.S. Lewis! Favorite book?
@sarahcunning: Awareness by Anthony deMello is up there. Not sure if I have just ONE fav Lewis or Wright book. Lamott’s memoir trilogy.
@jen_rose: Makes sense. I’m sure you get this a lot… but I got a strong Anne Lamott vibe from your writing. :)
@sarahcunning: I do like Lamott! My life was a lot different than hers, but I love her honesty. I want to be that transparent.
@jen_rose: What’s some of your favorite music lately?
@sarahcunning: My fav music lately is my fav music always. I like U2, the Beatles, some of Sublime. But I’m not a big music person. My hubby is the 1 singing to the radio (to anyone–New Kids, Mariah Carey, anyone) in our car. I’m the 1 stuck in a book.
@jen_rose: Favorite place on this planet?! (or any planet, on the off chance you’ve been somewhere else. :))
@sarahcunning: Favorite place on the planet is, for the moment, Jackson, MI (the place I live). Its taken me a while to get to that place where I get the best place to be is the place God has me, because this is the spot where his potential for me will play out.
@shutterbugshann: I feel exactly like that about Asheville. I feel like that is where I NEED to be to fulfill my future.
@jen_rose Would you rather spend the night in a graveyard or a haunted house?
@sarahcunning: Ha. I’m assuming neither isn’t an option? I’d probably pick a graveyard. The haunted house employees would drive me insane.
@jen_rose: Follow Friday style… 5 of your favorite twitter people we should all go follow right now?
@sarahcunning: Wow. There are a lot of good ones. @faith_reason @plywoodpeople @potsc @jesusneedsnewpr @jasonboyett …there’s a start. :)
@jen_rose: I know, right? It is a start. Just two more… first, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
@sarahcunning: Ooooh. I think mind-reading. But it would need to be optional mind-reading. With a switch that I could turn on and off.
@jen_rose: Second… does the Good Emperor have anything he’d like to say? :)
@sarahcunning: The Emperor turns 1 in April so he’d like to let everyone know he’ll be accepting cupcakes &/or jars of frosting in the mail.
@jen_rose: Thanks so much Sarah! It’s been great chatting with you this week! :)
Again, big thanks to Sarah for the blog tour visit and answering the burning questions of the Twittersphere. Also another big thanks to @amrhodes, @JanetOber, and @ShutterbugShann for joining in with questions.
Now… go buy her book. :)