The Pent Up Writer


My college semester is in full swing. I know this because as of Valentine’s Day I’ve conducted 306 assessments (in lay person’s terms, that means I’ve been grading a lot) with no end in sight. So how’s the writer part of me get the time to, you know, write?

I’ve always had to squeeze writing into my life which already bustles with teaching, parenting, husband-time, driving, cleaning the house (okay, only once in while for this one–I’m not a cleaner, I know this about myself), and fighting off illness. Then there’s those other distractions: cats on the internet, Game of Thrones on HBO (all the characters in various stages of bat-sh@# crazy, with swords), The Walking Dead on AMC (all the characters in various stages of dead, plus bat-sh@# crazy, some also with swords).

So, I didn’t write for almost three weeks. And like an addict, I went through withdrawal. Constantly musing about my not writing. Muttering under my breath, “I need to write something”. Talking about writing and then not-writing. Reading about writing and then not-writing. Writing a blog post about not writing. Wait. That sorta counts as writing.

My angst reached critical mass last weekend. I woke up at least a dozen times Saturday night with a brand new fully formed story playing in my head that would not let me go. I kept pushing back, whining, “I’ll get to you in the morning. Please, just let me sleep!” At 3 AM I finally gave up the fighting and the sleeping. I scribbled out that story from start to finish in one five hour blazing burst. Then I went back and revised and edited another five hours.

Which is completely unlike me. My usual writing style is to rough draft a little, pick a little, rough draft some more, pick some more. The same pattern over the course of weeks, months, (yes, years for my first novel). Critiqued, revised, beta read, fine tuned adds on another four to six months. My creative burner is normally “slow and steady wins the race.” I am the tortoise who gets there eventually.

But not this week my friend. This week I was the hare.

Photograph © Silviu Matei

Where’d she go?


She got summoned for jury duty and never came back . . . well, it felt like that for a while at least. I got called in for jury selection on the morning of September 18 and wasn’t released until the afternoon of October 3rd. Would you believe I was juror 46 out of 51 and I still ended up sitting as an alternate for the trial? I think by the time they got to me, they were desperate.

And what a trial. 1st degree murder. I won’t go into the details because honestly, the people involved don’t need any more publicity. AND the sooner this event fades from my own memory the better. Let’s just say I know more about deciphering blood splatter evidence than your average citizen. For all you fans of trigonometry, this is your field!

So, I’m back going through the motions of my normal routine, thirteen dollars a day richer, with the thanks of the county, worn out and weepy, trying to catch up on the mountains of grading that piled up unattended while I was attending to my civic duty.

You see, substitute teachers teach, they don’t grade, so tests, reports and assignments waited patiently for me to get back and NOW THEY ALL NEED TO GET DONE. Yikes! 112 hours got sucked out of my life; it’s already two weeks later, and still I haven’t figured out how to squeeze them back in.

Photo © Aleksandar Radovanovic


Burned Out from Summer Off?

Skeletal hands
A normal summer is me recovering from the hectic pace of 60 hour college semester work weeks. The only time when I get to put the word normal back into my life. Like, normally doing laundry once a week. Normally sleeping eight hours a night. Normally seeing my friends and family on a regular basis. Summer = three months of soul rejuvenation before the nine months of crazy takes over.

Only this summer, was not normal. This was the dreaded every third summer. This was the summer the faculty at my employer changed their Learning Management System (LMS). Again.

Yes, I’ve taught online for nine years and this will be the third LMS we’ve used.

Nothing to it. Take everything from the old system: syllabi, course structures, presentations, 100s of files, links, videos, quizzes, assignments, rubrics, announcements, discussions, e-mail history, grade books, blah blah blah, and copy it all into the new system. Voila!

But. No.

In the real world, systems don’t always play nice and there are plenty of surprises along the way. Two hundred hours, seven live classes and two archived for Spring, I hold my breath and hope everything works as planned Monday morning.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m good with change. Often a change leader, sometimes a go with the flow gal, rarely a complainer. But when 2016 rolls around . . . I really don’t want to link back to this post.

Photo by Phil Date

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