On this dark, chilly Friday morning at 6:13am, I am skipping most of my writing practice, blogging quickly, and then darting to work so that I can finish grading a huge stack of papers for my composition classes. The truth is that this week has been quite hectic at work, and since I have made the commitment to myself that I will not bring work home – if I do, it just sits in my kitchen looming at me, and my chest feels tight all the time – I have to go in super early to get it done. Such is the way of the community college professor I suppose.
But I have gotten some good work done this week, if not as much as I’d like. I finished researching publishers for the Tangled Braid anthology, so I can work on putting those queries in the mail next week. I wrote a better version of what I think will be the introduction to my memoir (I’m just not sure I like thinking of myself as a memoir writer.) I produced some “morning-ish” pages that are very different than my normal style, pretty poetic (at least in form and language, if not feeling). I read some great stuff. So I did get some work done.
Probably the most important work I completed this week, though, (aside from my teaching, which is of course of high importance) was the thinking I did about what it means to be a writer. I seem to think about this a lot, but I hope that’s simply because this is my vocation, my call, what I was made to do. As I sat in candidate interviews and watched people vie for my position at the college, I felt – for fleeting moments – a desire to stay, mostly because I felt like – as good as those people were – that I am better. I know there’s a great deal of ego in that statement, but it’s also true simply because I know the students, the department, the college. I’m ahead on the learning curve. And so for seconds at a time, I thought I had made the wrong decision to leave and pursue writing more actively.
But then I would be reminded of the things that made me leave (not the least of which is the policies of the college itself – I could write a book just on that): my desire to write more and better; my desire to have a life that is dictated by words, not schedules or meetings; my desire to have the time – and this is a big one – to think through a complete thought, to wend it through my fingers like worry beads, to work something out instead of just having to “go with my gut” and hope it comes out alright. I keep reading about writers who write all day (usually in their house slippers it seems; I’ll have to get some of those). They sit, they write, they look out the window at the people driving and walking by. And they think. And they feel. They can do those things at a normal pace, not the pace I push myself to go when I’m teaching full-time.
So I settled back into myself yesterday, confident that I am doing what I am being asked to do, what I was made to do. Meanwhile, I’m plowing through the rest of this semester – only nine weeks to go – and part of me gets very sad. I really love my students and my teaching. But since I know I’m coming back part time, it’s a little easier. When I think that I can just be in my pjs for two hours and actually write, everything seems right and good. Can’t wait to get there.