Necessary Reminders & Recalibrations

"You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it."  -- Susan Orlean
The last thing I want to do is turn this blog into a listicle repository of inspirational quotes written down in my journal, but this week I'm focusing on this little soundbite from Orlean, a New Yorker staff writer and book author, because it's something I've been wrestling with. In short, I've been trying to do the latter -- to remind myself that I love writing, and to focus on that. 


Accolades and publication are not writing.

Accolades and publication are not writing.

Accolades and publication are not writing.
Another reminder that I need.

The rejection from the residencies, coupled with the sabbatical debacle, have dealt a large blow to my ego, sure, but they've dealt the largest blow to my psyche, because they represent having less time for something that makes up a huge part of my identity (or at least, how I identify), something that I genuinely enjoy, something that I want to do more of. Something that I've been waiting to do more of.

But that's what I need to remember -- they represent less time, but they don't necessarily equal less time. I need to stop waiting to do the writing, and just actually do the writing, albeit in a much more committed way than I have previously.

Because I love to read, too, I bought all the things at AWP '18.
So if I'm truly creative, I'll figure out a way to carve out the kind of time I need to finish these projects, right?

I've been mulling over this last question for the past few days. Specifically, what changes need to happen in my life? Because this is a big indication that something needs to happen, right?

I'm loathe to extend last week's temper tantrum and begin rejecting my long-standing commitments simply because I didn't get my way -- and yet how else do I begin to make time? 

I can't make my career at the college disappear, but I can change my engagement with it -- preferably in a way that doesn't resemble a toddler going limp and refusing to move from the middle of the grocery store floor.

I've already withdrawn from a lot of activity at the college because I can't go to committee meetings as much as I used to do -- I'm helping my sister with childcare for the next few years and that means being far less available after I'm finished teaching classes. 

So my remaining activities come down to 1) work for the SCCC Creative Writing Festival, something I helped found and something I've been running with one other person, more or less, for the past eight years; 2) advising the campus literary magazine; and 3) organizing and moderating a regular series of panel discussions for our faculty union. 

As far as committee work and our culture at the college goes, this is really, really bare bones. I've scaled back, and way back, since becoming full professor and, coincidentally and yet also conveniently, taking on the responsibilities with my nephew. And yet. 

I haven't figured it out. I don't know how long, really, it's going to take to figure this out. I hope I can come to some conclusion soon, so that I can feel a little lighter, a little less gloomy.

We (M.S. and I) taught a class on risk and failure to our Developing Creative Imagination class yesterday. That was, admittedly, a really tough one.


Andrea Blythe said…
Love your book haul!

I feel you on the need for recalibration. I'm in that state right now — mostly working on a ton of stuff around writing (like blogging and promotion, etc) instead of doing much actual writing, which is starting to get under my skin in an uncomfortable way. With the limited time I have to do all these things outside the day job, it's going to be important to carve out time for actual writing within everything else.
Thanks, Andrea. Congratulations on Every Girl Becomes the Wolf! And yes, it's funny how the blogging can become a distraction -- but I try to remind myself that the blogging can also be purposeful, a place to talk about the craft issues I'm facing with my writing. I'm consciously trying to avoid the discussion of publishing stuff or work stuff this week and place greater focus on the writing!

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