Spinning Wheels of Thought

Picture borrowed from; https://www.townsends.us/products/colonial-spinning-wheel-sp378-p-874

I start today with nothing in my head to write about. I guess I can say that with regularity most days of the writing week. Sundays in particular are filled with no useful ideas of any kind. But I have a certain talent for spinning. As Rumpelstiltskin had a talent for spinning straw into gold, I take the simple threads of ideas leaking out of my ears and spin them into yarns that become whole stories-full of something to say. And it is not something out of mere nothing. There is magic in spinning wheels. They take something ordinary and incomplete, and turn it into substantial threads useful for further weaving.

Of course the spinning wheel is just a metaphor here for the craft of writing. And it is a craft, requiring definable skills that go well beyond merely knowing some words and how to spell them.

My own original illustration.

The first skill is, of course, idea generation. You have to come up with the central notion to concoct the potion. In this case today, that is, of course, the metaphor of using the writing process as a spinning wheel for turning straw into gold. But once that is wound onto the spindle, you begin to spin yarn only if you follow the correct procedure. Structuring the essay or story is the next critical skill.

Since this is a didactic essay about the writing process I opened it with a strong lead that defined the purpose of the essay and explained the central metaphor. Then I proceeded to break down the basic skills for writing an essay with orderly explanations of them, laced with distracting images to keep you from dying of boredom while reading this, a very real danger that may actually have killed a large number of the students in my writing classes over the years (although they still appeared to be alive on the outside).

My mother’s spinning wheel, used to make threads for use in porcelain doll-making, and as a prop for displaying dolls.

As I proceed through the essay, I am stopping constantly to revise and edit, makeing sure to correct errors and grammar, as well as spending fifteen minutes searching for the picture of my mother’s spinning wheel used directly above. Notice, too, I deliberately left the spelling-error typo of “making” to emphasize the idea that revising and proof-reading are two different things that often occur at the same time, though they are very different skills.

And as I reach the conclusion, it may be obvious that my spinning wheel of thought today spun out some pure gold. Or, more likely, it may have spun out useless and boring drehk. Or boring average stuff. But I used the spinning wheel correctly regardless of your opinion of the sparkle of my gold.


Filed under humor, insight, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching, Uncategorized, writing, writing teacher

10 responses to “Spinning Wheels of Thought

  1. “But I used the spinning wheel correctly regardless of your opinion of the sparkle of my gold.” That is a beautiful way of saying “I did it, it’s done, go away” ever think about being a manager? 😂

    • I was a school teacher for thirty-one years. I did my time in classroom management, and that was enough for a lifetime.

      • 31 years as a teacher? You are stronger than me. I would have probably ran screaming from the building on day 2! But thank you for bettering the minds of our youth – someone has to!

      • Hopefully I helped more than I hurt. I had over 2,000 chances to mess with their minds.

      • you only had 2,000? Wow, I miss being a kid. 180 days of the year on average, a minimum of five times a day….. they had 900 times that to mess with yours. Dunno how you survived that! 😉🌹🌺🌷

      • Yes, I spent the first 23 years in a smaller rural school district in South Texas. And when I worked for the big Garland district in the Dallas suburbs, it was as an ESL teacher, teaching kid’s who were learning English as a second or third language. I will say that if I was paid $5 an hour per kid, babysitter wages, I would be happy now.

      • Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated overall. The good news is that Covid seems to finally have broken many people of that. I just hope it lasts past a month.

      • I loved being a teacher.

      • If you’re made for it, I can see that. I am not made to teach children. Adults, I have no issues with. i have worked at teaching adults all sorts of things, but never in an academic setting. Vocational, private, etc. but i love it and I miss it. So I do understand.

  2. I enjoy reading about other writers’ writing processes, so this was a treat for me. Do share more of these if you have. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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