Today it was incredibly hard to focus on the things that needed doing. It hasn’t been hugely different from any other day this year. Three of my classes are mid-novel, two classes are writing essays, one class is reading short stories, and I am grading all those papers that came in at the same time (from every class). Today I couldn’t focus on the grading I would normally do on my prep period. I couldn’t focus on reading ahead. And, my writing has been spare and not what it could be.
Sometimes I tell kids the only way through writer’s block is to write, other times I tell them to set it aside for a day and see if anything has changed. I’ve tried both approaches since Sunday (I know, not even four full days) and now I’m in the “fuck it, at least I’m writing something” stage that usually precedes some epically poor writing on my part. However, I committed to write every day. It’s not always (even usually) something I’ll choose to post on my blog. The blog is important, honoring the money I pay for the address, honoring the part of me that loves writing—that’s what I need right now to move forward. I’ve been stuck in the same place mentally for too long.
A couple of years ago I started tagging my stuff as screaming into the void because that’s what writing felt like. I was throwing words into blank books, or the occasional tumblr post, into poems and musings, but nothing went anywhere. No one read my words and the fiction I’ve always wanted to write turned out to be pretty awful. I know that not many people read what I write and that’s fine. It just feels like I’m throwing things into an infinitely deep hole and there’s no way for me to known if there’s a bottom. For a long time I let that stop me. I was afraid of being noticed and of being ignored. I was afraid that people I know would be able to read between the lines (I’ve written around the thing most important to me for most of my life). So, I had to get honest with my words. I don’t have to tell anyone my secrets, small as they are.
I’ve always been a fan of the idea that we have to change as we get older, as new information comes at us, as life happens to us. I don’t think anyone should stay the same in their views or espoused beliefs just for “integrity.” We call politicians flip-floppers or wishy-washy if they change their views which is total bullshit. I’d much rather vote for someone who answered a question (instead of talking around it) and changed their mind as new information became available than vote for someone who just wants to keep their job. The ability to fail, to admit to doing something wrong, to change is being squeezed out of people as our society continues its slow turn toward monied classism. I will apologize to a student if I’ve done something wrong. If I misspeak, I will make every effort to correct the false information I spread.
That said, I still test my students’ ability to tell fact from fiction. I don’t want them to take information at face value, even from their teachers. In our current situation information is readily available and not always (usually) reliable. The focus on test results has swamped the importance of critical thinking, but that’s an argument for another session.
If writing is thinking, then this was another ramble.