March 4th. Yesterday’s date happens to be my sister’s birthday but it is also a message, as I learned on Facebook (the oracle of our times) when someone pointed out that it is the only day of the year that gives you direction: march forth.
That sort of sums up how I feel at the moment, that I’m in a “chop wood, carry water” phase of just keeping it all moving forward. March forth.
Two months into my first academic teaching experience, I can safely say that I’m enjoying it. It is a lot of work and is stretching parts of my brain that had atrophied since I left my old job, but I’m loving it.
What I am reminded of in teaching is that fact that you must be hyper alert to catch everything that is going on in class. To notice the student who is texting under their desk. To notice the shy student who sort of raises their hand but rarely speaks. To notice the student totally bullshitting their way through and probably hasn’t done any of the reading. And so on, you get the picture.
Aside from all of the preparation and the grading and the organization that goes into it, each class requires an energy level that results in exhaustion.
But, it feels worth it. It is deeply satisfying to hear these young minds discussing important issues that they’ve learned through literature and see light bulbs going on as they realize there is so much more out there to know than they’d ever imagined. This is a wonderful feeling.
I don’t know how much I teach them directly, but I believe it is rather the exercise of exposing them to new ideas in a safe place to tear those thoughts apart and reassemble them that is where they learn and I feel privileged to have a role in their education.
My own work on my thesis is slow and tedious. It has become work and I’m struggling to find my drive towards making it art rather than just capturing prose on the page. Perhaps I’ve chosen the wrong project, but I’m far enough in now that I will see it through. I just hope it becomes interesting again sooner rather than later.
Writing a book-length piece is a strange process and even though it is the very reason I am pursing my MFA – to complete the book – I still have no idea what I am doing. Perhaps writers never do. Who knows? Ask me again once I’ve graduated.
Otherwise, thoughts of life post-MFA are creeping in at an alarming pace. I would love to teach, but I’m not sure I can afford to actually pursue that. I have people who count on me financially so I fear I will have to go back to work in my old profession because, bottom line, it pays better.
This is the eternal struggle of the artist, balancing creativity with reality. I’ll keep searching for a way to make it all work, but once I do graduate I suspect the luxury of this time to devoted to writing will change dramatically. Time will tell so, again, ask me again once I’ve graduated.
If you’re waiting on hearing back from schools you’ve applied to, hang in there, but also remember that you can do a lot on your own, with or without an MFA. Structure your life to fit your artistic needs as best you can. There has always got to be a way to allow your artist to live – even thrive – and still pay the bills. Good luck with the acceptances.
March forth and happy writing!