Summer is done for me. A week of workshops with colleagues, a week’s orientation for new students. The fjord is bursting now with a world-full of teenagers, and they have come loaded down with suitcases and nerves, excitement and their blue-toothed boomboxes, their overwhelmed emails, overwhelming excitement, their homesickness, fledgling independence, their growing, their groaning, and such is school’s nature, this contrast. Every year, it comes as a surprise.
Last week on Words Like Trees, we began a series on dialogue, and I plan to return to this next Sunday. This week, though, I have found what time I can for just a few reflections. Time is short. My reserves need conservation.
I missed the first two days of classes, attending a training workshop in Berlin. I’m on my last few hours here in Germany, tonight returning northward, and I’m eyeing the year ahead, with anticipation, with bits of dread, with openness, with the preformed expectations we build up like callouses, that inure us to surprise and stunt the heart.
For the first week of work, I kept my writing up. Two fifty-five-minute chunks each afternoon, a pot of tea, outside on the porch if it was sunny. Last week, my accomplishments were fewer. Working with the students is an emotional and mental labor, and a couple of evenings, watching a TV show was the closest I could come to engaging with literature and writing.
We teachers like to say, “When things calm down…” Yet it seems they rarely do. I think often the changes have to be made rather than awaited. Perhaps I need to pull back. Perhaps that’s what can make teaching in the end sustainable.
That’s my goal. I want those two hours for my writing every day. I’d like to find a way to do it, to make them the priority they are in my personal world. How do you all go about this? How have you carved out time for writing alongside life’s many other entreaties? I’m asking for a friend.
Best wishes to you all for the week again. I’m sorry I can’t write more at the moment. My brain doesn’t feel quite here. That’s okay. That’s how things go, and it’ll be back. I’ve still got a couple of my summer short stories to revise. I’ve started sending a couple out to lit-mags. We’ll see what happens.
I’m excited to be beginning school. I have missed the students. I have missed Norway. I’m ready to learn more, and I’m ready to be the best teacher I can, while still keeping going with my writing. Wish me luck.
Until next Sunday,