All Posts By

Dana VanderLugt

Essay

What is Left Behind

For most of his life, my grandfather managed an apple orchard. We called it Grandpa’s Orchard, though technically the 200 acres of apples (plus 50-some acres of peaches, cherries, and plums) never really belonged to us, never belonged to Grandpa.…
Essay

The Discipline of Specificity

“Be more specific,” I used to tell my writing students. “Don’t say cereal when you could say Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Don’t say your character walked into the room when you could say he sauntered in. Don’t say you were reading…
Essay

The First Hill

I had to learn how to enjoy rollercoasters. I was a cautious kid, not one to take risks, and it wasn’t until high school that I remember walking off the platform of a rollercoaster with a smile on my face…
Essay

Attached

I remember a pastor once telling me that children who have an attachment item — a blankie, a teddy, a snuggly — are more likely to grow up to believe in God, to grow up to have faith.
Essay

Being Seen

I remember the day so clearly. I left a staff meeting during which our district announced plans to cut $2 million from our budget after the State of Michigan made sweeping cuts to schools. The meeting outlined the particulars: eliminating…
Essay

Intentional

By Dana VanderLugt inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/ adjective: done on purpose; deliberate. Synonyms: calculated, conscious, intended, purposeful I talk to my writing students about audience all the time -- “Know your audience,” I tell them, “Your tone, your style, your voice depends on your…
Essay

Turn

by Dana Vander Lugt I’m a sucker for all things nostalgic -- old photo albums, worn notes or ticket stubs. I can’t resist the “On this Day” Facebook pictures that pop up, showing me my posts and memories from this…
Essay

Saving up Stories

By Dana VanderLugt My grandpa passed away last winter. One of the things I miss most is saving up stories for him. My family still gathers around grandma’s table every Sunday, and most weeks my husband, kids, and I are…