Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Teaching Has Helped My Writing, Part Deux

So I'll admit it--when I went on Spring Break a little more than a week ago, I was very ready to bid Teaching goodbye, to thumb my nose and bid adieu (or at least au revoir for 10 days). Other than a few necessary academic tasks, I wanted to absorb myself fully in my novel process, which was tugging me toward it with the force of a very insistent small child.

I assuaged my guilt about this treatment of Teaching by writing my most recent post. But while I meant it, I was thrilled that the DNiP* had won the Writing vs. Teaching cage match for a short while.

And I'll tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed my week with the DNiP. I dove in full force. I vised. I revised. I read source materials and writings from my era. While I never seem to be able to achieve the 20 pages per week I long for, I won through to 74 pages of draft and felt confident about the first 50 of them. It was great. I realized that if I stay on this pace I'll be at a very respectable 150 pages by the end of the semester, which would leave me on track to finish the manuscript this summer.

And then it was Sunday, and I emerged from my cave. Someone asked me a simple question. I'm pretty sure I gave an answer that might have made sense. I wasn't sure. But at that point the pit in my stomach clenched up a bit, knowing that the upcoming summer of time alone with my DNiP might become a problem. See, it's possible that too much time alone with one's fictional creations and absorbed in that world could potentially be a bad thing for my social skills.

After the summer, will I be able to pull out of this daze I develop in these hermit-like spates of writing? Will I remember how to interpret and create appropriate non-verbal stimuli? Will I be able to converse on normal subject matter?

These questions are real (if slightly hyperbolic). At any rate, they drove me to very much enjoy the sociability of my teaching interactions yesterday. It's good to practice stringing sentences together orally so that an immediate audience can understand them. To focus on subjects that aren't associated with this all-consuming project that has such strong pull. To have a break from some of the heavy subjects and emotions that come with the research and writing.

Yup, this might have been the biggest reason for Marilynne Robinson's aversion to the writing life sans teaching I mentioned in the last post. I'm going to have to schedule some good regular social time this summer to balance out the solitude and absorption inherent in my writing time. Yes indeed.

*Dear Novel-in-Progress.


Erica Thompson said...

I totally understand your feelings. As a teacher and writer I think about the same things. Spring break can not come soon enough for me!

Whatever is Lovely

Deborah Leiter Nyabuti said...

Thanks for the empathy and support, Erica! It's good to know that others are in the same boat!