Monday, December 7, 2009

patron, where art thou?

I remember talking about teaching creative writing in a methods class in college; the discussion quickly turned to our own creative writing. When would we have time to write - really write - once we were in a classroom? Would we even want to write after a day of discussing Romeo & Juliet four times in a row or reading bland essays?

Early on in the classroom, I decided to write my own assignments. For my first year of teaching (and most of my second and third, too), these snippets of essays, stories, and poems were my only writing. I'd write examples and have fun with the start, but rarely have the time or creative energy to finish. That is part of the reason this Year of the Book project was born: I need to learn to see my writing through to the end. Finish. The End.

But the truth is that teaching literature and language arts saps me. I enjoy it, but it's tiring. Teachers understand. You read and reread what you're teaching. You're always looking up vocabulary or finding background or answering questions or settling quibbles about group work or whatever million other little daily things that are teaching. So now I am subbing a sophomore English class until the holiday break and find myself ready for January when, subbing and Christmas travel past, I'll be able to turn my attention again to the stories I've left simmering on the back burner. I only hope I don't lift the lid to find a scorched meal.

I think this subbing stint is telling me quite a bit about my own ambitions. A professor I respected very much told me I should go on to grad school and that he'd write me a letter for a writing program. I was too tired to think of applying. I thought: I'll teach for a couple of years and then go. But I haven't made it there yet. I'm okay with that, but I also know that I would eat those workshops up and ask for more: I want to become an excellent writer.

Another professor posed the question to all of us writers: Should you just take a job that allows you to write? Meaning, should you work at a job that doesn't drain you mentally or creatively so that you are always ready to write? If I were to take that sort of job, I'd deliver papers. I really would. (If it also paid the bills).

But I took a job that that does tire your mind with the learning and decisions. And now, after returning to teaching for the briefest time, after tasting what it's like to have time and mental space to actually write as an at home mama: well, what do I want?

I want a patron, that's what I want!

But I guess you don't get a patron if you haven't painted a collection first. Here's to January!

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