By Carolyn Marnon – Writing wasn’t always her passion. Hannah Gottman’s dad took her ice skating for fun. By the time she was in 3rd grade, Hannah started skating regularly at the rink in Wayne. By 6th grade, ice skating became more intense for her as she started moving through the ranks. In 9th grade, she joined “Allegro” and by 10th grade, she was ice dancing. “That was fun. I really liked it a lot,” said Hannah. There was a new coach, the return to an old coach and then trying out for “Allegro” again. By the end of her junior year of high school, she was becoming worn out.
Ice skating is not a cheap sport. There is ice time, lessons, travel to competitions, skates and costumes, among other expenses. Hannah’s mom was always there to encourage her to do what she wanted to do. Her mom worked two jobs during that time to support Hannah’s passion. Eventually, skating took its toll on Hannah. After being involved in a car accident earlier this year, she had to take time away from skating. She discovered that she didn’t miss getting up at 4am to go to practice before school. She didn’t miss skating. It took her awhile to finally admit to her mother that she no longer wanted to skate. She thinks it’s not because she feared no longer skating, but that she actually feared the change it would bring to her life after 10 years.
After quitting skating, she got a job at Waltonwood to fill her time. Soon after, she would realize what her new passion was and start to pursue it more determinedly.
Hannah is a senior at Wayne Memorial High School. In November, she participated in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. Writers are encouraged through various online groups to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. That amounts to 1,667 words written per day. As of November 15, Hannah had written 21,000 words. She was at 38,000 words on November 28. On November 29, Hannah made her goal by writing over 50,000 words with one day to spare!
Although most people set out to write a novel during NaNoWriMo, that is not the subject that interested Hannah. She prefers to write about her emotions, about life, about her experiences. Kevin English, Hannah’s Champions of Wayne mentor, encouraged her to “be a NaNoWriMo rebel and write what you please,” said Hannah. Mr. English had been her teacher last year and encouraged her to write a novel at the same time he was having his creative writing class write novels. Her name was included in the wall chart that was made for the class that listed student’s names and what their goals were. It was inspiring to see where others were in the process as the chart was filled in as students progressed with their word counts.
Write what you please is exactly what Hannah did. She started writing a personal narrative about herself and what it has been like growing up. She’s writing it as a gift to her mom. She was homeschooled for preschool and kindergarten before she started attending public school. Each chapter is a year in her life. She writes about the year and then she ends each chapter with a letter to her mom. She wants her mom to know how things have affected her throughout her life and how they’ve shaped her as a person.
As a participant of Champions of Wayne, Hannah set her goal for the semester: to have a 4.0 GPA and to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. She writes a lot on her own time. She says her mom is one of the most important people in her life. Hannah’s parents are divorced, so she and her mom have been super close.
Hannah didn’t always enjoy writing. She was on the staff of the Yearbook her sophomore year. She hated it at first, but she says she kept getting called out on having some of the best pages. Mr. English was her favorite teacher and he taught a creative writing class, so she took that class last year. She learned about writing short stories, crot essays (sections or pieces of writing that are assembled to create an essay and can make sense in any order), black out poetry (where you take a page of writing and black out most words while leaving others to form your poem) and every Friday there was a writing mentor project to be completed. Hannah’s writing mentor was Jacqueline Woodson who wrote “Brown Girl Dreaming,” a poetic memoir. Hannah wrote 60 pages of poem about her life. “I realized that I have something to write about.”
Hannah is considering Wayne State University. Wherever she does go to college, she wants to live on campus. She has also been accepted at Michigan State University; she finds the Living and Learning communities there interesting because students live together that share the same passions. She’s not sure where she will go, but she mostly just talks to her grandpa about the subject. She thinks it scares her mom to think about Hannah going away to school somewhere. She does know she wants to major in English/Journalism.
As Vice President of the Senior Class, National Honor Society member, Representative of the Superintendent’s Steering Committee, Yearbook Editor and next semester, newspaper staff member, Hannah knows she would like to pursue leadership scholarships as that is where her strengths lie.
As she was nearing the end of November, she was at 38,000 words. She still had her junior and senior years to write about. She thought there would be more to write about because she really enjoyed the last two years and had lots of experiences. When asked how she would end her book, she thought about ending it on her 18th birthday, which is the day I met with her. She wanted to write a letter to her mom about turning 18 and her transition into adulthood.
Hannah sent me an email on November 30: “I wrote about 10,000 words today. I just surpassed my goal… 50,090 words. I didn’t even notice and I still have much more to finish. I am only into senior year now.”
What a wonderful gift Hannah’s mother will receive when Hannah considers the book complete.
Hannah included in her novel this poem she wrote when her grandma passed away:
Here and Heaven
You’re halfway there and here.
Your eyes are looking up and waiting,
while your body is here and giving in.
You’ve said you’ve seen Him.
You’ve said to let go, so that you can finally let go.
You’ve seen the better part of this life that you’ve been given.
You’ve seen it all, but you’re still halfway here.
The cells living inside of you are holding onto their last limb,
because they know that soon
their time is gonna come, and that you’ll win and be happy again.
You’ll be there with Him, finally living the life that was actually given to you,