Octopus' Garden

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

RIVER IN EGYPT AND ALL

Although I have been putting off thinking about it in more than an advance-planning, hypothetically theoretical sort of a way, given that this morning is the first real meeting of the new academic year, I realize that I can no longer be like an ostrich with its head in the sand, and must finally face up, in a flesh-and-blood-and-guts sort of way, to the advent of the fall semester.

In a way, it's a huge relief. I really enjoy interacting with my students and colleagues, I love my job, and my duties and roles are very clearly defined, for the most part. Complex and engaging, yes, but still clearly defined in contrast to the much more amorphous writing/planning/replenishing time of the summer. In other words, it's much easier for me, in certain respects, to feel competent and energized during the school year because I always have a very full roster of things I either need to be doing, should be doing, or could be doing, and when I do them (even when they occasionally feel loathsome and onerous) I feel, well . . . energized and competent.

This is in contrast to the summer writing time where the process is much more mercurial, where I can work very hard for lengthy stretches with what at the time may seem like minimal results, where (knowing myself and the quirks of my work process) if I really want to be productive I have to hole up and dig in, which inevitably makes me feel very ingrown and strange. And I'm sure that when I feel ingrown and strange, I pretty much am ingrown and strange.

Of course, at the same time, I have to really fight to scrape together writing time during the regular academic year, and there is definitely a part of me that's mourning that loss this morning--while at the same time acknowleding the enormously huge gift of just having had (after summer moving and summer-session teaching) a month and a half of summer writing time.

One of the more challenging things for me, writing wise, is getting myself to really slow down enough to enter into the process. And during the school year it can feel a little schizophrenic to be dashing madly along at full tilt in order to carve out writing time for myself, and then having to come to a screeching halt and slow myself down in order to make good use of that writing time.

Oh, and did I mention that I am a slow writer? A painfully, excruciatingly slow writer. Those Hollywood movies where writers are typing along in steady streams of 100 words a minute because they're all inspired and shit really make me want to jab a pointy stick in my eye. But I digress.

Transitions are hard. But they can also be a good thing, too.

Early mornings are hard. I'm less convinced about their inherent goodness.
posted by Artichoke Heart at 8:08 AM

7 Comments:

i really miss sad south dakota mornings.
Blogger Shannon, at 9:03 AM  
Never fear -- early mornings have no inherent goodness. They are best spent sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. I'm convinced that workdays beginning at 8 am are the work of the devil himself (having lived on that schedule for the past, oh, 19 years or so now).

And I understand about the "transition" issue -- though for me it is more of a day-to-day thing, leaving work at 5 and coming home and trying to put on my "writing brain" which sometimes just doesn't fit, the way clothes sometimes don't quite fit when they're fresh out of the dryer...
Blogger Anne, at 11:57 AM  
I can only agree about the early mornings - what possible good can they add to the universe? I see none...!

I also agree about the summer break - being a PhD student, I spent the whole academic year trying to fit studying, teaching and doing paid work in, and then when the summer came it felt like I'd been waiting for it forever. But a few weeks later, I was already finding it difficult to actually get on with anything... All those things I'd planned while I had 'no time' seemed to just sort of disappear...

Maybe early mornings are a necessary evil to remind me that I should actually be doing something other than illicit bread-making!
Anonymous KW, at 5:15 AM  
Oh my yes! Lately, I'm doing a slew of freelance (technically unemployed) and so I force myself up at 7 each day because if I didn't I'd sleep WAY too long...

The problem for me is that once I've done dumb freelance stuff for a few hours, sent emails, etc... I just CAN'T write. I don't know why.

I feel silly saying this, but real writing for me has to happen in the middle of an empty day... which (since I'm due in November) is a problem.

Methinks a change is in order. Maybe a lobotamy.
Blogger Laurel, at 9:45 AM  
Oh I am agonizingly slow. Even email. Slow slow. I bore myself watching myself write. I hear you. And school days are hurricanes.

But: early mornings are all I have. I'm brain dead by 3 pm.
Blogger gina, at 2:04 PM  
writing is harder than it looks. we get bloggers who start blogging frenziedly for a couple of months and burn out. i think there is something to be said for thinking about what moves you before you write it. writing for writing's sake can be very tedious. and sometimes, i feel like my blog is the most tedious of all...

no milk please
Blogger no milk, at 5:09 PM  
Interesting. I don't think slowness is a bad thing. In fact, maybe you're just sure and steady. That's a good way to write in my view, and for me, it has been a long process to arrive at a place where I could authorize myself to work slower and steadier. It has meant, for me at least, challenging myself to do more ambitious writing, and please myself first.
Blogger Camicao, at 7:00 PM  

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