Helena Clare Pittman

Teacher feature: Helena Clare Pittman on affirmation through teaching

"...it is a rediscovery for me, that the teaching I do is not just about me. That alone is affirmation. We are all in this together. Writing for Children and Writing a Small-Scale Memoir teacher Helena Clare Pittman shares some insights into both her teaching and creative processes.

Helena Writes #1: On intended audience

When I write, I really do want it to come from deep within me. Once the writing is on the page, I look at it. Then I ask, who is this for? What’s the voice? I assess where I want to coax the piece. So when writing began to come to me with older picture book voices, I was surprised, and I went with it...

Helena Writes #4: On forcing the arc

Fall is late in coming this year. Our leaves, here in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, are usually blazing reds, yellows and oranges by September— two, sometimes three weeks in. Branches are bare by mid-October. But the trees in my woods are as full and green as summer, even after first frost three nights ago...

Helena Writes #6: On watching, and traveling through story-telling

The bears are asleep now that the temperature has dipped into the single digits, nights in these foothills of the Catskill Mountains. So, I’ve put out the bird feeders. I acquired this wisdom soon after coming here 23 years ago, when my sturdy feeder, made so that squirrels couldn’t chew it through, disappeared...

Helena Writes #7: On semicolons, and feelings over rules

A semicolon has been used to punctuate complete thoughts within a sentence; it is somewhat arcane, I’ve thought, and been replaced by a period or an em dash (—). The above sentence could also be written this way:...

Helena Writes #8: On learning the market, and loving what you do

A beautiful snow is falling, coating everything. Here in this woods, once snow falls, in December or January, it doesn’t melt until the end of April. But this morning’s covering is fresh, fine. It may be what my farmer neighbors call a sugar snow, for the maple sap that will soon run. But I don’t know these secrets, coming from the concrete streets of Brooklyn...

Helena Writes #9: On similes, metaphors, and glimpses

I think the eyes open when one writes, just as they do when one paints, to a more subtle, finely-tuned world. I’ve just looked up from my notebook. The snow on the hemlock trees past my window makes a fine, latticework pattern. I didn’t see that before I started this writing. It’s a glimpse, a vision of bright order. Outer to inner eyes. I think I’ve gasped...
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