Building a Fortress

Last week was our last week of spring semester classes at the college, and in lieu of writing a blog post I was grading.  THIS week has entailed more busyness than you'd think possible for a week without classes -- I was actually in a three and a half hour meeting on Wednesday -- but I've reclaimed my mornings and I've been reading and writing again.

M.S. and I are finishing our Sketchbook Project and turning it into digital files that we can submit to galleries for group exhibitions -- although really when I write "we" I mean "M.S." because I don't know the first thing about submitting to art shows, but I'm along for the ride. It's interesting and something outside of my comfort zone, so in the long run probably a good thing. 

I'm running triage on my household, which as per usual fell apart during the last month of the semester and needs some serious decluttering and cleaning. How can five people accumulate so much junk? Also why do schools generate so much unnecessary paper? My kids bring home the equivalent of three tall trees every week. We recycle, but c'mon -- is it really necessary? (This coming from a writer and college instructor who generates quite a bit of her own paper clutter.)

Also per end-of-semester follow up: dentist & doctor appointments, since my body is falling apart just like my house. (I have some kind of muscle tear around my bicep, which is kind of funny considering I haven't worked out in what feels like several millennia.) Also some clean-up and maintenance: a hair-cut, maybe a manicure, another Whole30, because I think I need to just be kind to my body for a month and avoid filling it with bad shit like sugar and processed food and alcohol. And once that gets going, remembering to drink water and then returning to running and yoga. 

I guess in the end I just want to enjoy inhabiting my own body. Right now I look and feel very much like a raisin that's been stepped on. Just to be make that image more clear: an amorphous dried-out blob.

Earlier in the week I had to fill out some paperwork that required going back into my old notebooks and searching for relevant information, and I came across notes from the SECAC panel in Columbus last year. One of the panelists, Elaine Luther, gave us her rules for a committed studio practice. The first two are about holding space for yourself and self-love and acceptance, which are probably necessary but evoke from me this kind of visceral gag-like reaction to the new-agey sound of it all, but the last two I found more interesting: #3, Decide what to be bad at so you can focus on becoming good at your art (i.e. I'm going to be bad at volunteering, cooking, housework. etc.)  #4, Create boundaries (i.e. "Build a fortress around your studio time").

Disclosure: I have yet to use this stamp on student papers.
I'm going to make some drastic -- for me -- moves toward building that fortress. First, I'm stepping down from all college service for the next academic year. I've decided to be a bad colleague: No meetings, no emails, no creative writing festival, no union activities. Next, I'm going to be bad at social media, like FaceInstabookgram. I think I might just go radio-silent for the next year and either delete my accounts or log out from them, wipe them from my smartphone, whatever. Something to that effect. (I'll keep the blog, because shouting into the void isn't really social and it's my form of accountability and part of my writing process.) And I'm going to take a page from M.S.'s book and the visual artists I know and create my own version of "studio Fridays" -- a block of time in the morning for sustained work on my writing, i.e. my verse play. 

Within a year, I want a completed draft of this play. It doesn't have to be good or polished or anywhere near ready for public consumption. I just want to have Acts II and III in manuscript form. I want to stop talking and writing and talking and writing and talking and writing ABOUT the goddamn play and instead just WRITE the goddamn play. I mean, goddamn. It's about time, right?


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