Monday, January 14, 2013

On Celebrating New Phases

I like to start things slow. I like to work my way into things. Dwell on them for as much time as it takes. Take my time.

While some delight in the early stages of dating, for instance, I wasn't a big fan at most points in my single life. No, for me the delightful deeper understanding of a long-term relationship.

Same with most things, for the most part. I don't mind going to new places, per se, or experiencing new things, but in the novelty vs. stability dialectic, I will usually vote for stability, at least when it comes to from scratch starts.

The fact that I'm loving the beginning of this DNiP* at this point is a misdirection, in a way. After all, it's been 5-6 years since I first conceived the idea for this project, and I just recently made a judgment call that I'd done enough research, let it simmer enough, and had enough slackening in my schedule of other responsibilities to commit it to paper with fear and trembling balanced with a measure of confidence for reasons I've already discussed in recent posts.

Which is to say that the type of novelty I absolutely adore involves entering new phases of larger projects once I'm into them. That's the kind of beginning I can get behind completely.

And that's the type of beginnings I'm entering on in this, my second semester of teaching at this particular university. In my teaching, I'm feeling profoundly blessed to be revising and extending courses and course concepts I've taught before, and in some classes teaching the same students I've already gotten to know and who have already gotten to know me. It's marvelous. While there are great parts to teaching a class the first time, I always feel like it's a first draft that had way too many things that ought not have been released yet, especially when I'm teaching it to a new set of students with an inevitably different student culture from the places I'd previously taught. First drafts, as Anne Lamott points out, are inevitably flawed. And so, in my opinion, are first semesters. On the other hand, second teaching semesters=fabulous opportunities to fix many of the most glaring flaws (and hopefully some of the smaller ones as well).

In creative writing territory, as mentioned above, while I'm not revising, I'm entering a new phase for which I largely feel ready. The fiction-writing seminar starts on Tuesday, and the way has been cleared. Five large recipes have been cooked in recent days, with the leftovers in the freezer to pull out as needed. My syllabi and lesson plans for the early parts of my teaching semester have been written. The online course environment has been set up with the most crucial documentation, and reasonable self-deadlines set up for other teaching-related tasks in the near future. The novel's background research has largely been completed, except for that which will be manageable to do during the writing of the first draft (and for that, the books and articles have been gathered for easy access). The plot and characters have been slowly forming in my thoughts and through notes. It's time--finally--to start writing the thing.

Three cheers for beginnings of new phases of projects already begun! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

*Dear Novel-in-Progress

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