“Miss. You really need to lay off on all of these essays. Writing is hard!”
Yes, a student actually said this to me the other day, and before we respond to the whining of this generation and how, when we were kids, we had to write essays uphill in the snow both ways, let’s take a second to admit that he was right.
Writing is hard.
Writing is so hard, in fact, that I haven’t done much of it this semester. I leave the house at 6:30 every morning (including Saturdays for speech tournaments – in fact, on Saturdays, I leave at 6:00) so I can get to school early to grade some papers. Every day after school I have something going on – speech practice, curriculum planning meetings, Fearless Females, yoga or Zumba, or various appointments I need to make on my only day off during the week. When I do have a few free moments, I either add another yoga class to try to re-center myself, or I read a book. Even with this busy schedule, I’ve read 5 books since September. That may not sound like a lot to you, but check out the list of all the things I’ve been doing. Keep in mind, also, that I teach three books at a time between my three different classes, so I’m skimming those along with the kids, too. What I haven’t been doing is writing.
When I agreed to be the assistant coach of the speech team this year, I knew exactly how busy I’d be. I made myself a strict schedule for which nights I could cook dinner and which I’d need to use the slow cooker or order in. I scheduled my workouts accordingly, too, vowing not to let myself fall asleep on the couch every night like I did last year. As you can see, between food and working out, health has been a top priority for me this year, and it has paid off. I have more energy, I’m happier, I’m less anxious, and my skin has cleared. I’ve also made sure to schedule time for mental health breaks. I’ve gotten really good at telling myself I’ve worked enough, and I put away the papers I’m grading or the assignment I’m working on and read or watch television or go to bed. Another top priority this year has been to make some new female friendships. I’m in two book clubs and a Meetup group just for that purpose alone (plus, to read some really good books!). My female friendships rejuvenate me in ways my relationship with Tim can’t, and I find it important to cultivate those relationships as well as to form new ones.
Even with all of this going on, I have a lot of time on my hands. It’s a necessity for me to keep a tight schedule, so I actually plan my entire day down to the minute. Sure, things happen and nothing goes as planned, but I know exactly when I will have time to grade, read, work out, and spend time with people. I easily could have scheduled some time for writing in there, but I didn’t.
Of course, I have been writing for Care2 every week – sometimes more. You just saw, too, that I’ve written something for Role/Reboot very recently. So, it’s not that I haven’t been writing. It’s that I haven’t been writing here. I haven’t made the time to make the kind of personal inquisitions into my life, relationship, and job that I have been so fond of doing in the past. I’ve had the time; I just haven’t made myself do it.
Now, I’m not trying to get all Maria Kang here by saying that, if you don’t find the time to write, you’re just making excuses. I’m talking purely personally; I have the time, but I haven’t been doing it. No excuses, just no writing. Yes, I’m busy, and yes I have a lot on my plate, but I could find the time to write. I just don’t want to.
You see, I haven’t really missed writing until now. I feel about writing this year the way I felt about working out last year. I just didn’t want to do it. So I didn’t. It wasn’t until much later that I noticed the deleterious effects of my workout slump. I’m sure the effects of my writing slump are about to rear their ugly heads, too.
But I just haven’t wanted to write. Writing is hard. Writing is like a workout for my brain. It’s loud and angry. It’s painfully slow and takes a great deal of effort. It’s putting myself out there in a way I haven’t practiced in a while. You don’t see the results right away, which can be frustrating at times. And, once you stop doing it and realize your world isn’t going to fall apart because you missed a session, you start missing more and more until getting back in the game is the hardest part of all.
I’d rather be reading. Reading is quiet and solitary. It gives me a sense of accomplishment with each page, chapter, or book I finish. My eyes gloss over pages, easily understanding everything I’ve read. It’s not only a turning into myself, but an escape; instead of worrying about my life, I can worry about this character’s for a while. When you spend your life being an extrovert – teaching, coaching, meeting new people – being an introvert for an hour a day feels like a really good idea.
I cannot, however, ignore my calling for too long. Writing keeps me grounded. It allows me to process the ideas I’m presented with and reflect on events that aren’t so clear-cut. It’s an important part of me, and I can’t stay away for too long. The hardest part has just been getting back in the game after being out for so long.
This is my attempt to do so. It’s shaky, but I’m here.
Featured Image Credit: Sami Keinänen