My Confetti Hands

I knew it would happen eventually.  And, of course, it did.

Like so many people out there, my social contact since the pandemic began has consisted of screens.  An unexpected benefit of this has been the sheer number of conferences, classes, and gatherings of like-minded people that I could not have otherwise have encountered, let alone enjoyed attending.

The last week of July 2020, I was invited by a long-distance friend to visit her writers’ group, and that was when I first learned of Teach Write.

Begun by Jen Laffin, Teach Write is an online gathering of teacher-writers who meet several times a week to set writing goals, celebrate, and write together.   I’ve been attending since August 2020, and those Time to Write (TTW) sessions are easily the highlight of my week.  I have made friends with writing teachers from across Canada, throughout the United States, in Ghana, and in Asia.  It makes spending so much time in my house a lot easier. 🙂

One of the very first things a newcomer to these writing sessions learns is that, during celebrations, we silently cheer each other on by holding up our hands and waving our fingers, as if we are throwing “virtual confetti.”  Until someone explains it to you, it can look rather odd, but it becomes a natural part of your life after a session or two.

Besides Teach Write, I have been taking a memoir class that follows hard on the heels of the Sunday TTW session.  (In fact, I usually duck out a few minutes early to get to it, just so I’m not rushing to get there.  What that means when I’m literally signing out of one screen and into another, rather than running across campus, I don’t know.  Welcome to 2021.)

At the beginning of yesterday’s memoir class, Nancy — our facilitator — asked us each in turn to share how our writing week had gone.  I went first, and then listened to another classmate describe his accomplishments.

And then it happened.

OMG I just sent virtual confetti in my memoir Zoom class.  They’re all looking at me like I’m from another planet!

My TTW friends texted back with reassurances.  But I was not to be assuaged.  I felt I needed to explain myself to somebody, anybody.

I was just in TTW — didn’t even get out of the chair — so my confetti hands didn’t realize we had switched Zooms and we were done that part!

My friends laughed along with me, and I sheepishly spent the rest of my last memoir class sitting on my hands.

As it turns out, that was not the last time I will be seeing most of those memoir classmates.  We have decided to continue on meeting regularly, with me as facilitator.

I know exactly what the first thing I teach them about our virtual meetings will be.

This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ March Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ Day 1 contributions via the comments here.

About the author

Karen J. McLean

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  • Wow you are doing so many great things to support and grow your writing practice. So wonderful. I love this story about confetti hands. What a fun celebratory gesture. And I can just picture the moment you did it in the “wrong” group!

    • Hi, Lisa! It’s nice to meet you!

      Yes, I have decided to focus on my writing practice as much as I can during this “quiet” time. It was abandoned for a number of years, but I’m writing every day again, and I didn’t realize just how much I’d missed it.

  • That’s a wonderful way to celebrate – that way you are not cutting the sound out for others in the call too. I would happily invite confetti hands to Wednesday Crafting group 🙂

  • I never heard it called confetti hands before! Love that name, and the image of you sitting on your hands through the remainder of your next meeting!
    Scurrying across campus versus staying in your seat and clicking to a new zoom- that is what this year looks like. Yet you have all this writing work and connections- a good thing!

    • Thank you, Fran! Yes, it’s interesting to see the unexpected benefits that this strange time has brought — and the connections I’m making with other writers, including you!

  • I love this! I am sure it would be really easy to slip and do. I like how you weaved in your inner thinking with this piece. and I would love to know more about the memoir class!

    • Thank you so much, Leigh Anne! That particular memoir class has finished, but it was run through The Write Connection, a joint program put on between Thoreau Farm and the Thoreau Society. It was the second time they had offered it (the first was last fall), so they may offer it again. I am also in another, six-week, memoir class with Nellwyn Lampert. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. 🙂

  • I am throwing confetti at you right now. Spread the joy! Honestly, I often do it in my classes now. My kids just smile because they know where it comes from.

  • Welcome to Slice of Life! A good post! I love the confetti hands – a great idea! I am sure I would have ended up doing the same thing. Does your writing overlap or are you writing new things for each of you groups? That is a lot of writing! Enjoy it all!

    • Hi, Joanne! It’s lovely to meet you! 🙂

      I am writing a variety of things. I do Morning Pages each day, for example, and I have a weekly poetry/freewrite prompt group I join as often as I can. The big project I’m working on now is a memoir, and it tends to overlap several of my writing sessions/classes.

  • This made me smile. I linked to your post earlier from Twitter (I think it was Twitter), and I knew where you were going just from the title. I think a lot of us have done the same thing–I did it during a faculty meeting. Yep, got a few weird looks… Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Haha! This made me laugh out loud! Long before confetti hands of TTW, I was using TPR gestures to help my ESL students online. The thumbs up, cupping my ear to show that I am waiting for a response, and pointing to my own mouth to show that it is my turn to talk all carried over into my classroom at school and various places, such as the Starbucks counter. There’s nothing quite like giving the barista a cheesy grin and two thumbs up for taking your order. Talk about awkward!

  • I’ve thrown up confetti hands in a zoom PD sesssion before. The bad thing about the confetti hands is that you can’t easily turn it into another gesture. I mean, sometimes if you wave at someone and then realize you don’t know them, you can just pretend to be tucking your hair behind your ears or something. But confetti hands? Those are hard to hide. LOL!

    • Jackie, you are so right! I have tried the “Oh, I was just enthusiastically scratching my nose with the backs of both of my hands,” but it was awkward, to say the least! 🙂

  • What a lovely tradition! I can imagine that would have been slightly embarrassing, but I think when you introduce them to the tradition next week, they’ll love it, too. It’s a great way to support one another. Jealous of all your writing classes! I think I need to look into joining some classes too.

    • Aggie, I cannot recommend it enough — both the confetti hands and finding a group to which you belong. Finding joy in a community has gotten me through this winter in a way that nothing else could have.

  • Yes! I recently taught my third graders about confetti hands, so it is spreading here too! Let’s just hope I do not break out the confetti as I join in on several interviews later this week:)