The Unfortunate By-product

It is finished. Grades are finally in, I’m working on un-hunching my shoulders, and only mildly second-guessing the half-rant/half-sage advice I gave to my students about grade-grubbing. (I maintained professionalism instead of saying what I really mean, which is, “Bitch, please.” That’s self-control.)

And now that grades are in, and I’m preparing to attempt relaxation, I felt the need to blog. A friend has recently started blogging and reminded me that, ahem, it’s been two months since I last blogged.

Good things have happened this semester. I will likely feel the need to blog about it in greater detail at a later time, but it is sufficient to say that things have gone well. I have accomplished things. But oh, how much work it has taken. I have worked more hours per week this semester than I think I have ever, and that’s saying a lot. I mean, I went to graduate school.

The unfortunate by-product, and one I hadn’t fully recognized or experienced until this semester, is that all of that working and accomplishing and reaching and smiling and rushing around in a caffeine haze takes away from writing. I always heard this, but I figured eventually I would figure it out. I haven’t. I mean, I haven’t blogged in a little under two months. I keep meaning to sit down and write a story, an essay, a paper abstract – something to get my act together and get down to the business of writing. There’s no time.

I’ve been teaching a year, and I feel no closer now to a book manuscript than I did in January. I haven’t written fiction in over a year and a half. And the thought of doing so makes me feel nervous and inferior. I’ll have to process through that.

I voiced some of these concerns to the same friend who reminded me about my lag in the blogosphere. She understood but also pointed out that I’ve been doing food writing – lots of it – with growing success. I dismissed it, and she called me out.

Why do I feel like food writing isn’t legitimate? Because it’s easy. And I like it. And it’s fun. I eat a dish and think of words and sounds and associations to describe it. And for whatever reason, by nature of the fact that it comes easy and is fun and I’ve found some success with it, I’ve decided it’s not real. It’s not fiction, and therefore, I’m in a culinary detour that I’ll wind out of eventually.

Why do I think that way? Why can’t I celebrate this and find an avenue for success – for a book – in food? I don’t know. And with my students’ final exam scores floating just off shore, and my continued stress over teaching and grading, tonight’s not the night to explore that. Tonight’s a night for getting cozy in bed, continuing progress on reading a book (a whole book! one that I’ll finish because there’s no grading to distract me!), and settling into the break.

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