Monday, March 15, 2010

writing about work

I just read a NY Times article about writers getting back to work, or getting back to writing about work. Here is an excerpt from Jennifer Schuessler's article "Take This Job and Write It":

And in The Telegraph of London, John Lanchester, who took a break from novel-writing to research “I.O.U.,” his new primer on the financial crisis, asked why fiction tended to "break down" in the face of the complex modern economy. Work has become central to many people’s self-­conception, Lanchester noted. So why, in novels, does it tend to be “as much a marginal detail of a character’s life as her hair color”?

Really interesting point there.

Early on in my teaching career, I read a memoir about a teacher's first five or seven years on the job and all of the schools he taught at and his memorable colleagues and students.* But that was a memoir.

I think I could have more fun writing a novel, fictionalizing some of the real parts of my teaching career and what I've observed, smashing people together into characters. A novel would allow an honesty I'm not sure I could be comfortable sharing if I talked shop in a memoir. I'm going to think about this - writing about teaching. I'm in the middle of teaching right now, collecting stories. Inspiring, irreverent, irrelevant.

*I searched "teacher memoirs" on Amazon and didn't recognize the title or author there. Then again, I didn't go through all 568 results either. It was a good book, but not amazing. If I dig around and find it later, I'll post the title and author.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

writing date

I had a long weekend at the end of February and a couple of friends and I went to a Starbucks, ordered coffees and wrote. A writing date. We brought writing books along, packed with new exercises to try, but we each ended up working on our own projects.

I had a new story to write. For the third time since beginning this Book Project, a short story idea came to me in a dream. This particular dream was so vivid that when I woke up, I laid in bed replaying each scene to glean what I could. Then I cried. The dream came to me in snapshots, as though I were paging through someone's photo album. Each snapshot came to life to tell a different part of the story.

That isn't how I'll structure my story, but the snapshots at least gave me parts to tell. I began writing and was able to spend two and a half hours getting a good start. I'm pleased with that.

Daily writing remains a challenge. I really haven't the time or creative energy to do much. Whine, whine, right? I have fourteen weeks remaining until the end of the semester, at which time I need to be revising the Book Project. I have only a few weeks until a spring break which will (I hope!) provide some much needed writing time to hammer out endings to one or two stories.