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.

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