When I was in high school, I knew a great writer. His name was Pete Andersen. He was my best friend, and that’s what mattered most.
Pete’s authorial output was unimaginable to me: hundreds of pages of stories, plays, scripts, journalism—you name it, he wrote it. He shared his ideas with me, let me read his drafts, and valued my comments. He made me feel a part of something I could never be a part of because I didn’t have the skills that he did.
If I’m a writer today, it’s because Pete was a writer then.
In high school, Pete and I wrote a radio play called "The Big Three at Yalta" so we could get enough extra credit to pass U.S. History and meet our state's graduation requirements. In college, I dabbled in journalism. After college, I was fortunate to be able to write extensively about some of the most important music technology products in history.
In my 30s, I began writing about writing for teachers and students. I wrote regularly for The Seattle Times newspaper a column I created called The Effective Learning Series. In 2001, I won an Innovators in Education Award from The Newspaper Association of America for my work. In 2007, I won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal Award for Young Adult Nonfiction for the first edition of Be a Better Writer. My education writing has appeared on websites like The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and Edutopia. I was also an early contributor to The National Journal Education Experts Blog.
I didn’t truly learn to write until I started teaching writing. Immediately, I felt a deep commitment to know what I was doing. In 1995, I founded Teaching That Makes Sense to provide teacher professional development and consulting services in reading, writing, assessment, student engagement, and technology.
For me, writing requires a high tolerance for ambiguity; it’s not a right-or-wrong endeavor. I’m never sure how I’m doing until my work goes out, and it’s too late to do much about it. There is, however, one thing about writing of which I am absolutely certain: writing changes lives; mine certainly, and I hope yours, too. That’s what matters most.