About Gerard Sukhram

Aspiring high school Language Arts Teacher and college professor, technology enthusiast, intellectual, and friendly person. Fan of poker, sports, creativity, and inspiration.


Great Margaret Atwood Article

I’ve always had this weird idea that authors weren’t really people. At least the great ones. There’s no way they could walk and talk and do normal earth human things that we do because they are talented beyond us. I think students of language arts classes feel this way as well.

This is why we, as teachers, need to bring articles like this interview to our students, or even contact the authors and try to set up Twitter chats, Skype sessions, or whatever else may be necessary. Atwood’s first three comments are making references from The Hunger Games to other texts, one of them being in her own novel. She displays a great sense of humor, and it really humanizes her in my eyes. By bringing authors closer to our students, we can build a new interest and relationship with reading.


Is it as honest as you can make it?

Words to write by. I was inspired to write an honest poem after reading a student poem out of Kirby and Liner’s Inside Out, a book about teaching writing to adolescents. Tried to really capture the overwhelming insecurity and joy of a first kiss. Here goes nothing:

First Kiss
My lip just twitched. Did my lip just twitch?
It’s twitching. Oh God. It’s dark.
Maybe she won’t notice.
Maybe her lip is twitching, too,
And I just don’t notice.
Wait, where are you going?
Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then.
Wow, that was smooth, wasn’t it?
Did she see my lip twitch? Did she like it?
She wasn’t smiling. I can’t stop smiling.
Oh God. I look like such an idiot. What was that?
Aren’t there supposed to be fireworks?
I don’t see them, but it feels like they’re there,
Like oompa loompas pogo sticking their way around my face.
My cheeks hurt from smiling. What was that?
Maybe we’ll do it again, soon.
Maybe she’ll smile next time.

Behind her, the noise escalated…

Behind her, the noise escalated…

These are all from creativewritingprompts.com, btw.

Behind her, the noise escalated, so she ran into her room and shut the door. This was the third time this week, she cried in her head, and wasn’t it only Wednesday? It was so hard to keep track of the days. Let’s see. On Monday, they had learned addition with the number 2. Tuesday, she had gotten all of the words right on her “100 Important Words to Know” quiz when all of her friends had trouble saying the word “were.” She was so proud of herself! But they weren’t proud of her at all. It’s like they didn’t even notice that she was there. They just continued yelling and yelling, and she just kept hiding from it.

She turned on the little TV in her room.Arthur was on. Oh D.W., don’t you know how I feel? Let’s trade lives. I’ll take your annoying older brother, and you can have my mean parents. They’re just so… mean!

Something broke. She heard something break. She crept slowly towards the door and opened it just a crack. The room flooded with sounds of her mother yelling about money and broken dishes and all of these things she was only beginning to understand. She clutched Bear’s hand and offered a comforting word. It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay. They’ll come, whoever they are, they’ll come for us, Bear, and they’ll take us away, and we’ll go to a real family, and things will be fun all of the time, and happy, and we’ll be just like D.W., my life, it’ll be just like D.W.’s!

Bear cast an all-knowing glance at her. Stop it, Bear! He asked too many questions. Are you sure you aren’t talking to yourself, Elsie? Aren’t you getting too old for dreams like that, Elsie? Would you like another sugar with your tea, Elsie? She threw Bear across the room. He was too smart for his own good! Mommy and Daddy said to never talk back, and Bear ALWAYS talked back! He was starting to be a meanie, just like them.

She cried. She could always trust Bear. What was going on? Why am I losing you too, Bear? She stared into his lifeless eyes. His behavior at their tea party games was becoming worse and worse. Snarky, rude, and he almost never wanted to gossip about the neighbors. What should I do, Bear? She walked over to Bear and cradled him in her arms, draining her atmosphere of the din beyond the door. Bear motioned for her to sit, and they waited. They waited for something to happen.

I thought I saw…

Begin with “I thought I saw…”

I thought I saw a really great prompt when I picked this one out, but I’ve been sitting here for three minutes with nothing to write, which kind of destroys the whole purpose of this exercise. I suppose this will become one of those meta-writing posts, but how far down can you go down the rabbit hole until you just get stuck and you’re leveling the crap out of yourself? Meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-writing.

I thought I saw a way to grow as a writer, and in many ways it has been. In only three posts, I’ve experimented with voice, characters, objects, and probably many other things that I haven’t taken the time to examine just yet (or maybe never will!). And maybe that’s the beauty of all this. There is so much more unseen growth than can be seen between posts or perhaps charted and graphed in a methodical manner, examining writing like one would a census or test scores. (I totally just self-edited that line. I think that’s the first time I’ve done that the whole time. I made it through three and a half posts! YES!) How many metaphors did I use in the last one again? I think we are trending up.

I thought I saw inspiration to write as I was readingInside Out: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing by Dan Kirby and Tom Liner (with Ruth Vinz). It was they, and Troy Hicks, who really inspired me to start this whole process, but I didn’t fully understand just how difficult it would be. I dare you to try it. Consider this a challenge. Force yourself to write; force yourself to let words become stream-of-consciousness. Don’t stop. I write like the Energizer Bunny, and when you’re done, you should feel tired. You should feel mentally exhausted. So in a way, I did find inspiration in their book, and hopefully I will bestow that upon the bunch who will have the misfortune of being my students.

I thought I saw the beginning of an Emily Dickinson poem – this prompt is just really her, or maybe Atwood’s Morning in the Burned House. “I thought I saw a Fly / Wandering about on a cloudy day…” or something slightly nonsensical but leading up to another idea with incredible depth like Dickinson always does. I’ve learned to appreciate her, but I don’t much like her. I admire her for living the way she did and managing to write the way she had, though what else is there to think about when you coop yourself up on a house for years on end?

I thought I saw a divide between thoughts and personality in my writing, and maybe I did. One of my biggest fears is to sound like a pretentious nobody, and I think the reason for that is because I perceive pretentious people in a way that I think they are always trying to compensate or sound smarter than they actually are. And maybe everyone perceives them that way; I don’t know. I’m not in your head. But the way I write is the way I often think. I mean, who doesn’t have those long-winded narratives about their sordid lives running through their own heads? Like Becky on Fox’s Glee, I sometimes talk with a British accent in my head, and though I never sound like Queen Elizabeth, I always sound quite posh. Yes, the italics indicate an accent. Anyway, I’ve gone astray. My point being is – maybe it’s just me, but I might say less than 50% of what I think or often say things differently than how I’m thinking them. Most of the time it’s because my thoughts are incredibly childish, playful, and absolutely dismissable and unworthy of conversation. Other times it’s because I’m too nervous to openly state my opinion in front of peers or those that I hold in high regard for fear of what they might think. And every once in a while, it’s because I don’t want to sound like that pretentious jerk who is trying to overcompensate for a lack of knowledge. No, when I overcompensate for a lack of knowledge, audience, I simply do the nod and smile.

I thought I saw a pretentious tone in that last paragraph, but maybe it was only because I was looking for it. Am I too demanding? Do I ask too many questions? (Do you love this sh*t? Are you high right now? Do you ever get nervous?) Is it even okay to ask questions? It’s like the old bear in the woods riddle. If a blogger poses a pretentious, or even offensive question on his blog, and no one is there to read it, is it still pretentious? That’s definitely one of my biggest fears. It’s sad. “The present is a gift, and I just wanna BE.” (Common – Be). I shouldn’t live with all these trivial worries; don’t sweat the small stuff, right? But everyone sweats the small stuff and everyone always will. I guess it’s just how we are wired.

I thought I saw this post turn around really quickly. I had low expectations for it, but a wise man once said, “Set the bar low; aim even lower.” I’m good at the setting the bar low part because it really gives rise to some exciting stuff when you are surprised at what you can actually achieve. It’s easier to focus on what needs to be accomplished when you aren’t sweating the small stuff. You just need to do some rewiring.

Well, that was short lived. Back!

I wanted to do a quick prompt before bed, which stinks because I’ve been good (for all two posts) about doing the prompts in order and not choosing them. So basically, forcing myself to write about whatever prompt shows up. Here’s one that I can definitely finish in 15 or so minutes.

Write a letter to the 10-year-old child you had been…

Hey little G,

It’s amazing how much more than you I know. I guess I should offer you some advice. I definitely don’t have any regrets – I love the way my life is, love how everything has turned out. I think you’ll grow up to be a fine young man. Actually, not to get cocky or anything, but I think you’ll grow up to be much more than that, because being a fine young man is the last thing I want to be and the last thing that I think I am. I aspire to be much greater than that, and I know you aren’t thinking that right now. You won’t be thinking that in five years, and maybe not even in ten, but somewhere in that eleventh or twelfth year, you’re gonna have this realization that this world is going to be your stomping ground, and that you’re going to change lives. Anyway, here’s some tips that you should be aware of in the coming years:

1. Hang out with Brian way more. He’s going to turn out to be one of your best friends, so you might as well start early since you share a room with him. He’s really not as annoying as you think, and he turns out to be a pretty cool guy when he wants to be. Take care of him too, because he really looks up to you.

2. Don’t be afraid to talk to girls. You’re gonna grow up and realize that they’re all going to be your best friends because you won’t be as comfortable talking to guys as you are with them. That girl Susan is going to be your best friend someday, so start talking to her now instead of just walking off by yourself at swim team practices.

3. I know you hate baseball, but stick with it. You’re gonna end up wishing you had played it a little bit longer anyway.

4. Mom and Dad end up respecting you, so just deal with the bs for now. I know they’re bossy and put a lot of pressure on you, but that’s the only way they know how to love you, so you have to love them back. They’re going to end up relying on you and missing you, so don’t shut them out when you’re around 13 or 14.

5. Practice your saxophone more. It’s hard to find that motivation to play scales and things like that all the time, and you definitely don’t want to play the same 2nd alto part over and over again, but you’ll find more stuff to play when you get older, so master those things now. Ask Mom to get you a saxophone teacher again, because you’re going to miss it a ton when you graduate college, and you’ll want to be able to speak the jazz language way better when you get there.

6. It sucks that Mom and Dad don’t let you play video games on the weekdays, but that’ll turn out okay. Play outside with Brian more, and maybe venture off to those kids across the street. Talk to Jeremy and JR and even that weird white kid, Kenny. You won’t regret it; trust me.

7. Be more creative. Write more stories. Read more books. Ha! As if you could actually read more books! Maybe get a jump start on Harry Potter. I know, it seems weird because only the weird kids are reading it, but it’s gonna turn out to be one of your favorite series.

8. I guess most of my advice is boiled into this: don’t waste your time frivoling around. You’re going to end up pursuing things that you’ll never have dreamed of pursuing. Instead of waiting to take that next step, take it now. It’s a long highway to success, so get a couple miles of head start. Start reading about poker sooner; start studying music sooner; start watching football and playing fantasy sports sooner; start focusing on school sooner, and only focus on what you really love – the rest will just fall into place. Focus on friendships sooner, relationships sooner. These things mean nothing to you now, but they will.

9. Lastly, get the hell out of your comfort zone. It’s going to help you grow in more ways than you can ever imagine.


Your older, wiser, 22-year-old self.

The Inaugural Post

Intial thoughts: Still getting a feel of the site and the interface, but I’m liking WordPress much more than any blogging platform I’ve seen so far. Also, creative writing is so much harder than I remember. Here is the first prompt, as per creativewritingprompts.com:

Close your eyes briefly. Think about one object that’s in the room and focus on it. Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail as you can about it. After three minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it.

Here goes nothing…

Black wood had always had a certain attraction to him. He’d always appreciated those dark coffee tables or dressers that he had seen in his girlfriend’s design and decor magazines, and this bookshelf was no different. Functional and fashionable, she’d always say, but he was always more interested in the function and she in the latter. However, he was enthused by this purchase because it fit perfectly with the black wooden bed frame, and he longed for a library when he grew up to be a real person.

it stood out from the bookshelf he had when he was in college; the old one was metal framed with black wooden shelves, but it was cheap and immature. This one had an air of sophistication about it. He wanted to fill it with volumes of classics and modern favorites, but it needed to be used in other ways as well – family photos, storage for the unused yarn, a lamp stand, and much more, but only one shelf for books. When did life become so complicated? When did books become the least important thing on their bookshelf?

It was no different than the other things that were moving so fast in his life. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. And at the expense of what exactly? He loved efficiency, even in the stupid hobbies he had adopted over the years. Yeah, he might have been playing poker or reading online journals about fantasy sports, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t doing it efficiently. He never realized that speed and instant gratification were that important to him, but growing up in the 21st century, how could it not be? He lived in an age where speed was everything; concentration and focus needed to be honed to finish tasks with ease and timeliness. Yet, he struggled with this when it came to school. It had always come easy to him, for years, since he was born even. But it was becoming harder than ever, fighting through the constant grind of mulling through textbooks, grading thousands of papers a week, and for what? What was that goal again?

He missed the black wood in his life, the beauty in simplicity. Those minutes of sitting with the drone of a ceiling fan, or the dull commentary of the day’s sports highlights with the volume turned so low, you almost couldn’t hear it over the clicking of his keys. Sitting back and firing up four poker tables online, or maybe reading a blog about the new directions Apple would be taking on their e-textbooks. And really, what was simple about that anyway? But it was relaxing. Exploring life and interests and thinking about how nice it’d be to do this forever.

But like everything, there was theory and practice. There was imagination, and there was reality. Really, he just wanted to be a kid forever, to be able to constantly and freely explore his world and indulge in the simplicity of things. How wonderful it would be to fill that black bookshelf with books he’d read in his life, constantly reading them over and over and finding deeper meanings each time, adding one or two books a decade and immersing himself fully in literary experiences.

No, there were papers to grade and textbooks to mull through, and there were dishes to wash and job interviews and appearances to keep. Dreams, aspirations, they were for another time. They were for a different Sunday, a different March, a different winter. They were never for now.

He grabbed the keys off the bookshelf and headed to work.

Post-Writing Thoughts: Wow, when did I adopt that dry tone? Is the writing still engaging, despite the tone? Is it engaging at all? The prompt was really hard to follow – I found myself looking at the item once every couple of minutes, and I was definitely too lazy to get up and turn the TV off, so the glanced at the SB highlights every few minutes as well, but I remained focused. It’s so hard to not revise in your mind while writing. All in all, I think it was a good start to this project!