The Cost of a Semester Spent Teaching: Colonization (and, of course, Squidginess)

This is the last week of classes. Two days of classes, to be specific, and then a few days saved for grading. Grades are due Friday. Graduation is Sunday. I am so glad it's almost over.

It's been rough, this transition to teaching from writing. I've tried to keep in mind this article from a Chronicle of Higher Ed blog (I linked to in an earlier post) about writing during the semester. Like the author, Claire Potter, I've spent some time this semester comparing my old writing habits to the new habits I gained over the sabbatical. Potter writes of her old habits:
 . . . why were these all such bad plans? Because they made writing instrumental to the trauma of tenure and promotion processes, a habit that is hard to break. Furthermore, in one way or another, I was accepting as a given that all writing must in the end be motivated and controlled by other people’s rules. My own creativity could only be activated in time that had yet to be colonized by someone, or something, else.
While I like this post because of its focus, writers in academia, and its pertinence to my own life, I think all writers -- all adult writers who must also support themselves through work, be it related or unrelated work -- go through a phase of subordinating their writing to the rules and needs of the workplace . . . and/or the rules and needs of family. 

That last sentence in the excerpt creeps me out: "time that had yet to be colonized." My sensitivity to the term "colonized" could be especially acute at the moment because I just finished reading the rest of Act I of Walcott's "The Ghost Dance," and that play is full of white people trying to make Native Americans adhere to their rules and needs  . . . but I also think of the word "colonized" in terms of pests, like ants or parasites. The image of being overtaken -- used -- by these "rules and needs," much like my kitchen is being overtaken by tiny black ants at the moment, raises the hair on the back of my neck.  

I think I'm going to be okay, though, in the future. I don't anticipate having the same kind of writer's block that I did a couple of years ago; writer's block borne from an absence of time inside my own head. These past few weeks I have not spent much time inside my own head, but that's the price I had to pay for spending perhaps -- dare I say it? -- too much time there at the beginning of the semester. Something in my day had to budge so I could get those damn papers graded. This week, grades are due, and there are lots of papers to grade, but I feel like I'm going to be able to finish the grading during the regular daylight hours I have allotted, and that I can take back my mornings for reading, reflection, some writing, and also . . . some running.

In a few short weeks I'm going to run a 10K. Yup, you read that correctly.

Which means that I'm going have to leave the computer now, and put on my running shoes, and go hit that treadmill while the babies are still sleeping. I have more to write -- here, in this blog, and yes, even where my poems are concerned -- but that will have to wait until tomorrow. It's time to get this squidgy ass in back in shape.


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