There’s definitely something about losing the remaining senior generation of your family. In the last five months, my husband and I lost his mother, his grandmother, and my mother.
Coping with a trifecta of grief and loss has been tough, but it’s also made me do a lot of reflecting. With the time I have left on this earth, what do I want to do work wise?
I have always had twin passions. First it was dance and teaching. That combination worked pretty well. Materials I developed for my dance classes or for my choreography fed nicely into one another. Besides, there were few student papers to pore over. In the last years, however, I’ve combined writing with teaching English composition courses at a local university. That fit has been tougher. During semesters, I’ve become so caught up in helping my students with their writing that pretty soon, my own creative work is well… only happening in occasional fits and starts. The mystery writer Elizabeth George, who spent 18 years as a high school English teacher, wasn’t kidding when she commented that if you’re going to be a really good English teacher, you’re probably not going to get a lot of novels written.
Still, I’ve felt quite torn. My students don’t send me rejection slips, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that I’m making a positive difference in their lives. Yet if I do have a few more books in me, I’d really like to write them. And so, I’ve decided to focus on my writing and let my college teaching go, at least for the time being.
I know that at this point in my life, I’m fortunate to be able to make that choice. It does, however, come with some costs. So much of my identity has been tied up in my role as an educator.
I’ll let you know how it goes and would love to hear from you about any major work/life changes you’ve made.