Friday, August 28, 2009

56) writing is freedom

the literary life 8/28/09

The school year stretches long ahead of me, an exciting but arduous journey--an uphill climb. Today has been my first official day back at work, but it's a prep day. Teaching begins Monday. Banging my snooze button about twelve times this morning I had to wonder, isn't 6am the middle of the night? I've been sleeping in most days, not ready to face even my kitchen until mid morning. Last night I didn't get to read like I usually do. I came home zonked after prep work, and then did some more prep work on my home computer. When my husband got back from class (he's getting his credential), we went for a short walk. Then it was T.V. until almost midnight. As my mind surrendered to sleep, there might have been the opening line of a poem waving at me. I yawned in response.

Teaching is fun, and I enjoy it. However, the first month after ten weeks off are a shock to the system. They constitute a transition period. The hardest part is being a slave to my alarm. The waking up early part. A few weeks in, I kind of get used to it. But I have to say that one thing I'm glad about is that I'm done with PEN and the Emerging Voices Fellowship. All spring, from January to June, it was tough to juggle a full-time teaching gig with driving into the city three times a week to attend author evenings, workshops, and classes. The discombobulation was totally worth it, but it would have been hard to be so spent for much longer than a semester. At least this semester, universe willing, I can claim the weekends and evenings my own. And I can be selective about which events I want to attend.

My goal today is to definitely scribble a poem down in my notebook. It might be the worst junk in the world, but I promise to get something out. Don Delillo has said, "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.As I get back into leading the busy life, I feel myself seeing writing in the vein I saw it when I first fell under its spell many years ago: as an outlet, an escape from the roles we play in real-time. It's a form of freedom, a dive into the imagination where we can swim without boundaries. I hope I can impart this point of view to some of my students this year--the idea that writing can mean a willingness to let go of our day to day identities and to embrace something larger.

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