Five reasons I will never teach creative writing again

Back in the earliest days of my college career, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I also knew I never wanted to be a creative writing teacher: Don’t get me wrong, creative writing is one of my passions, but by that time I’d spent years participating in online writers communities, reading others’ stories and providing very detailed feedback.

And, if I may, I was damn good at it. People I’d never met before knew my name because of the quality constructive criticism I gave, and sometimes writers would ask me out of the blue to read their rough drafts or proofread their final copies. I was even invited to judge not one but two different short story competitions!

So why didn’t I want to become a creative writing teacher? And now that I’ve finished teaching a four-week creative writing elective, why will I never teach it again?

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On the Cusp of Past and Future

It’s been 126 days since I blogged last. In that time, I have…

Taught approximately 360 lessons
Graded nearly 800 exams and quizzes
Used four of my five allotted sick days
Attended at least 40 hours of professional development
Spent about 60 hours preparing and submitting my edTPA
Written a 42-page, single-spaced, original research paper
Backed 23 new campaigns on Kickstarter (while not funding my own)
Listened to “Sky Full of Song” and “Hunger” over a hundred times, and
Worked out a lot less than I wanted to.

But all of that is merely the minutia of being a grad student-math teacher-advisor-TFA corps member-writer. Except half of that is suddenly behind me.

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Psst! Do you like music?

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted–first I got sidetracked when I was told my thesis was due earlier than anticipated (by a month! but don’t worry, I finished it–and passed my defense), and then I had to catch up on homework, and then I’ve been attending a YOGA for Youth teacher training and it’s been busy (forty hours? two weekends? check!).

Excuses, excuses, of course, but it’s my way of saying if I could have been here, sharing ideas and experiences with all of you, I would have been. =)

I’m still in a frenzied state, of course, attempting to stay on top of everything as graduation and Teach for America barrel toward me, but I want to take a quick moment to share something with you–call it my three-day-early throwback Thursday.

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tb;dw

We all (probably) know the abbreviation tl;dr, meaning “too long; didn’t read.” This last week inspired another: tb;dw, meaning “too busy, didn’t write.” It’s a habitual occurrence when classes begin, but it’s a habit I want to break.

The truth is, when I decided somewhat arbitrarily to make Mondays and Thursdays my Writingwolf days, I had no idea that I would have homework due every week on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s a match made in priorities hell: either I maintain my blog (part of my overall vision and one way of staying sane), or I commit myself to excelling on homework (a different part of my overall vision and another important part of staying sane).

Clearly, you can see my predicament.

Since I can’t change my homework schedule, it means I can only change my posting habits. At the moment, I’m thinking I’m going to switch it up so I blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then share poems/stories/etc. on Silent Sol Wednesdays and Saturdays.

But it’s a process. In fact, as we speak I’m in the process of creating new processes–I’ve done away with making goals for myself (hence why I haven’t written a piece on my goal progress in a while), instead attempting to create daily habits that will help me achieve the long-term outcomes I want to realize. Goals, in a way, are a recipe for failure, whereas processes appear far more forgiving. But before I report on my progress and how it’s working for me, I need to keep up with it long enough to see some burgeoning results.

So my post on goals vs. systems is forthcoming, I promise.

In the meantime (which, pausing to reflect, literally means the midpoint between now and some unspecified future moment), I’m going to try this new schedule and hope it helps.

500

I’d like to say I’ve been thinking all day about what I would share with you. But I didn’t.

Instead I pulled myself out of bed at sunrise, walked a mile to class, and was promptly told it was cancelled. I went to my second class, finished some computer work, went to my next class (in which we discussed the sameness of donuts and coffee cups), had lunch and studied with a friend, went to a work meeting, had dinner, and went to my last class.

Then, when I got home, I balanced my check book.

It was a thoroughly typical day, but this is not a typical post.

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Where the Heart Isn’t

My writing desk vibrates with the hum of Florence + the Machine, the echoes of her voice as it thralls and throws the air, a soft vibrato all the way to my fingertips, my toes.

My toes sit soft at the ends of my shoes, slightly sweetened by sweat and the long walk across campus I made today–twice–beneath the blistering North Carolinian sun.

My right shoe is pressed flat against the floor of the faded maroon carpeting of my new campus apartment, only the ball of my left foot hitting the floor, my heel raised as I lean forward, poised for creativity, ready for my words to rewrite the world.

I’d say it feels like home, but it doesn’t. It isn’t.

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Till the Dust Settles

It’s about that time of year when suddenly I disappear.

No, I’m not a practicing magician, but I am still a college student, and with the summer days winding away, within a week I’ll be back on campus, back in classes, trying to figure out how they expect us students to do what students are meant to do.

And typically it means my blogging starts to suffer. But I’m hoping, even if there might be some disruption next week, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep up my twice-weekly posting on Mondays and Thursdays here, and on Tuesdays and Fridays on Silent Soliloquy.

I have a number of unpublished posts that I think will help me through this transition, but transitions of any sort tend to messy and unruly, and until Im in the midst of the forthcoming chaos, I probably won’t realize how much a whirlwind it’s going to be.

So all my blogging friends, all my readers, riddle me this: How do you keep up with what you love (perhaps blogging, perhaps not) when the going gets tough? What’s your method, what’s your madness? Because this time, when it gets tough, I don’t want to get going.

Mental Malfunctioning

The dog days of summer are upon me, but instead of howling at the moon, I’m lying curled up in my bed without the energy or motivation to get to all these things I want to do. I’m making steady yet slow progress, but I can’t seem to get into what’s most important.

I watched a brief video the other day by Josh Davis, talking about “When to Skip Something On Your To-Do List,” and his advice is simple: If your mental energy doesn’t match the task, then stop. Put that energy where it’ll be most effective and come back to the other tasks when you’re mentally prepared to efficiently work on them.

But, see, this is where my mind starts to malfunction.

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Failure and Reprieve

This post has been in progress for more than two weeks. The title and idea came about even further back than that. It’s hard to trace the timeline of something ethereal: does it come into existence when the audience sees it, or when the idea is conceived?

Trifling nonsense aside, this has been a trying semester–for a myriad of reasons, perhaps my hardest yet–and words have at last come to challenge me. They stick to my tongue like tar and won’t say what I mean to say–or I don’t want to say what I really mean.

It’s like Alice all over again, but then, wasn’t that what I wanted to be? The mathematician-turned-writer-does-both like Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll himself? A moot point. A tangent. A space without definition, to be called “obvious” and “left for the reader to prove.”

What I mean to say is I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I need recovery. This is perhaps the closest I’ll get.

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The Long and Short of It

I was out with friends watching Interstellar the other night. Afterwards we were standing around, trying to figure out the movie, some of us closer to understanding than others. I was one of these guys, trying to explain multiple dimensions to people who have never had to think outside three (and even had a hard time understanding those).

But I tried to take it further, make it clearer: dimension is not only a spatial measurement. We think of space in three dimensions: we can move forward/backward, left/right, and up/down–three measures, three dimensions. So what, they asked, is four dimensional?

It may seem like this will be a post about science, but hold on. Shortly, it won’t be.

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