A few weeks ago, I started teaching again. The plan was for me to teach during the day and write three nights a week. Or two – at least two. Okay, one. Absolutely one.
Here’s how it’s going.
Week one was crazy. I spent ten hours a day at school and the rest of the time in front of the TV, too exhausted to move. My body was asking me: Really? We’re doing this again? My dog, transitioning from two walks a day to one, was asking the same thing.
So it wasn’t until Friday of week one that I packed up my laptop (Will’s, really – did I mention that my laptop died? Could the universe please stop sending me messages?) and headed for the Borders café. I almost made it, too. But somehow I ended up in the bedding aisle at T.J. Maxx. I don’t need bedding and I haven’t been inside T.J. Maxx in the better part of a year –but suddenly it seemed crucial that I be there. I fingered 500-thread count sheets discounted to $29.99. I tried out pillows – a favorite pastime. Finally, I snapped out of my funk, marched my behind to Borders, ordered an espresso with an extra shot, and went at it. Well – sort of. It had been exactly twelve days since I found out I got the teaching job and my life went into full-blown chaos, so I’d been away from my manuscript for a full twelve days. I was kind of scared to return to it. It was like suddenly returning to a friend I’d been avoiding, and there was a stiff awkwardness to my rhythm. I had a checklist for my novel revision, but those things all seemed too overwhelming to implement. Read over for references to the 1970s. Um, no. Instead, I fiddled with a few sentences, possibly making them worse. The next morning I hit Starbucks, which was simultaneously overrun by youth soccer players who definitely didn’t need caffeine in the first place. It was slow going, but I did get somewhere.
Week two. All I thought about was organizing curriculum, planning writing proficiencies, and how in the world I was ever going to fit in with my new colleagues. Exactly no writing happened again until Friday night. Will went to a football game, and I escaped again to Borders. I ended up writing something entirely unrelated to my novel, more as therapy. And then I read over things. Not bad, I kept thinking, grinning to myself. Who is responsible for this genius? Oh, right – me. I had managed to forget entire lines, if not scenes, of my novel.
Week three. It’s only Monday, and I’m in Starbucks, sipping an unsweetened ice tea lemonade and eavesdropping on the conversation of a couple next to me and trying to figure out how I know the man sprawled on the chaise lounge. I’ve even opened my novel file – it’s right underneath this one. This – in the world of the weekend writer – feels like a huge accomplishment.
Watch out, world. Here I come.
Paula Treick DeBoard