Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Mountain of Pudding

Congratulate me, dear reader. I have just survived the Week from Hell.

As many of you know, I am a damned scribbling woman with a day job. Specifically, I am a high school English teacher. Last year, I also became co-department chair. What does that mean? It means that my already inadequate prep time is eaten up by meetings. Lots and lots of meetings.

This year, I'm teaching five class periods, three different preps (one of them AP English... which is basically a college course). Two of them are new classes--including the AP--which means I'm creating curriculum from scratch. Normally, this is something I can handle. And yet... this past week, I was staying up until 1:00am (and getting up at 5:30am) just to be ready for the day's teaching. (We won't even talk about the grading and long-term planning I've managed to avoid...) To add insult to injury, I actually had two meetings this week about another meeting. That's right: meta-meetings to anticipate and then reflect upon another meeting.

Seriously? Seriously!

I wouldn't mind if the meetings were actually useful, but most days it just feels like I'm climbing a mountain of pudding. I expend lots of effort, but never seem to get anywhere. My work desk is a pit (see above), and my house is a bio-hazard. I haven't worked on my novel at all in months. And perhaps worst of all, I'm starting to resent a job that I used to love.

I want to focus on my students (the reason I'm there in the first place). I want to develop my own brain (and novel). I want to spend time with my new husband, in a home that's not oppressively disorganized.

Ah, well. I don't know if I'll ever clear the dishes from the sink, but I do know that I can take control of my writing. If there's one thing I've learned through our years of blogging, it's easy to whine. It's much harder to actually change one's circumstances. This is why, prodded by Anneliese, I'm making my writing goals for the school year public:
  • I will stay at least two days ahead of my students in terms of planning and reading.
  • I will write EVERY day, including weekends (even if only one paragraph)
  • I will attend at least 6 GSRWA meetings during 2009.
  • I will take an online writing class with Patricia Kay.
  • I will begin sending work to my critique partner every two weeks! (Look for an email on October 5th, A.L.!)
  • I will create and implement a plan to achieve PRO status before the 2009 Emerald City Writers' Conference.
Day job getting you down? I'd love to commiserate! Of course, straight sympathy works, too.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New School Year Resolutions

The new year really starts in September, doesn't it? That's when we reluctantly bundle ourselves back up and head back to school to begin again the endless cycle of classes and papers and reading and research. Resolutions seem much more appropriate for September than January--if you're a student (like me) or a teacher (like Kate D.) that's when you model your new clothes and new behaviors and get your brain ready for new experiences.

So, in honor of my first week of my PhD program at my new school, here are some resolutions:

1. I will limit internet surfing to no more than 1 hour per day.
2. I will read (academically) EVERY day, including weekends (even if only one article or part of a book).
3. I will write EVERY day, including weekends (even if only one paragraph)
4. I will join RWA's NYC chapter and begin attending meetings (starting this Saturday)
5. I will finish the first draft of O Mistress Mine by May.
6. I will create and implement a plan to actively pursue representation for my first novel.

This is an ambitious plan, but I'm hopeful that I'll succeed at something if I push myself to do more than I actually think I can. It all hinges on the internet usage--the synecdoche for my time-management failures.

I've woken up every morning for the last several months with scenes from O Mistress Mine running through my head, which gives me hope that the book isn't dead in the water. If I can just get my fingers against the keys, I trust it will turn out alright.

To monitor my progress, I'll post status updates at the end of each month.

Kate D.--care to state your New School Year Resolutions?