Reflections on Starting Over: A Manifesto on Being Myself by Michael D. Perkins


I like good strong words that mean something.

–Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

In a former  life I taught and studied literacy. As a chronic reader, I could not help but form a profession around my obsession. As a chronic reader, it’s very difficult not to become a chronic notetaker. As a chronic talker, it’s very difficult not to have most of your conversations center around what you’re reading and what you’re writing. I love “talking” with my books. I make notes in the margins for the characters and the author to never read. I pass on my books to other folks hoping they will continue the conversation. These are the things that mean the most to me. Folks talking about what they’re reading and why and then carrying it further to write about what they are reading and why.

In my former life I encouraged my rookie readers and writers to just get their ideas down on paper. I made sure we had plenty of journals, post-its, and white board space and all kinds of smelly pens and cool pencils to just start throwing down words and sentences and inspirations. We’d work through the handwriting and technical stuff later. Spelling correctly can always come through editing. I didn’t want them to get so caught up in getting it just right that they would forget their motivation in the first place.

If you read my stuff regularly you can probably tell I still adhere to the same rules. If I catch the spell check then great. If not, just keep reading through and fill in the blanks. You will still be able to see my heart and mind.

Michael D. Perkins new eBook: Starting Over: A Manifesto on Being Myself, reminded me of teaching my first students. I’ve been a big fan of his blog Handwritten for a few months now, especially because I first read it because I thought I was going to get mad about something he wrote but turned out I was mistaken. However, I’ve already written about that so why rehash. What I loved was as the rest of us are looking for the next best flashy video or eye catching typeography Michael had returned to handwriting his blog and along the way he had returned to why we write in the first place.

Just to get our thoughts out of our heads.

From a visual perspective Manifesto reminded me of my former students early writings. Developmentally my students had moved past the stage of trying to figure out how to form letters. They were free and independent to create on their own and to write about things that mattered to them. They were free to write letters to authors and question the characters or write their own story with their own ending. Since, I gave them permission to have a “sloppy copy” and pick their own topics the words and the sentences could flow with out censoring. Every so often they would try to convince me to write their story for them but I obviously couldn’t. It was their story from their mind and it needed to pour out of their pen.

Sorry Michael, you’re handwriting is not the best but your thought process is. Just like my students you gave yourself permission to create without traditional boundaries. He wasn’t bound by the technical side. Michael created something that was important to him and in doing so it’s almost as if he’s given permission to the rest of us to do the same.

I think I’ve read Manifesto 10 times now since Michael went live with it last week. The phrase I keep coming back to is this:

“Because the world needs your unique and different voice. So don’t be afraid to give it to them. After all, it’s the voice God has chosen for you and you alone.” -Michael D. Perkins

As wonderful as this story is, Michael can’t write my story nor can he write yours. But he has opened a door for the rest of us not to worry about getting it just right but to remember our motivation and to get our words out of our hearts and minds.

I think you should read more of Michael. He’s a good man with a heart chasing after God. http://thehandwritten.com

What have you written that you’ve been afraid to share with the rest of us? Don’t hold back.

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3 thoughts on “Reflections on Starting Over: A Manifesto on Being Myself by Michael D. Perkins

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