Friday, August 17, 2012

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” - Stephen King

Tonight was the faculty orientation for the new college where I'm teaching in Richmond.  I am so relieved...gleeful, even...to be back in the classroom.  When I have to leave a job behind in each of our moves, I always wonder if I'll be allowed back on this carousel of career.  Steve keeps assuring me it'll get easier the more experience I have, and I'm now in my 12th year of teaching.  But it's always seemed too good to be true, to weird to think this perfect job for me will continue. 

Two nights a week doing something I love, and feel like I'm part of very real evolution in the lives of my students.  Some of them don't care.  At all.  But some of them do.  And I love feeling like I'm part of something bigger than my little nuclear life at home, no matter how significant and noble I believe family life to be.  My 6 hours of teaching does a lot for my mothering spirit.

I got to the orientation absurdly early. Partly excitement.  Partly that I misread the agenda on when it started. So I sat in the back while I waited, scribbling in my composition notebook.  

I have a new writing project.  I haven't had one for awhile.  I usually write in bits and pieces, all the time.  But this is a new thing:  A cohesive idea that keeps my brain churning at night...rummaging for pens in the glove compartment so I can get it down on paper before the thought disappears. 

Steve kept trying to convince me to write about this particular idea, but he's legally obligated to think my thoughts are awesome, because he's married to me. But then Gil peer-pressured me into it too. "Start with an article about it," he said, "and then a book." And I kept shaking my head no. This was a topic just meant to mill around in my mind, it wasn't for writing.  But his call to action stuck in my brain.  He was saying all the same things Steve kept saying.  Maybe they were right?

On the train ride home from DC, it started coming out.  On a napkin, then the back of an envelope in my purse.  Now pages and pages in my notebook.  Maybe it was time.  

I still don't want to publish it, I just want it for me. Have Steve read over my shoulder sometimes. But I'm ready to write about it.  An entire chapter spilled out in under an hour.  I love seeing the ideas sharpening on the page, like fine-tuning a microscope. For the first time, this complex maze of thoughts is making sense to me. 

The process of writing is more important to me than what happens to the words once they're down -- whether someone even reads them, or whether it becomes a functional book in the end, with paragraphs and chapters and a definable thesis statement.  But I can enjoy the journey through the topic for my own sake.  

And in the end, maybe it will never be for anyone.  Or maybe I'll just leave this project in my will for Gil, my stack of papers in a suitcase.  My pile of Evan Shipman poems to his Hemingway. 

Whatever happens, I am appreciating the almost drug-like pleasure of my brain sizzling with new ideas...with writing, with teaching, with what is coming up ahead. 

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