I was talking last night with some girl friends about how difficult it is sometimes to talk to ourselves as nicely as we talk to each other. Several of my friends are suffering from writers’ block, a lapse in confidence, or a sense of personal failing. And yet oftentimes we don’t talk about this. We suffer in silence. Embarrassed, perhaps? Trying to be brave? It was such a relief, however, to come clean with each other about our respective doubts and struggles. So easy to lift one another up. Until finally, I found myself speaking passionately about how I believed being kind to oneself could be considered a revolutionary, feminist act, since we live in a society still hell bent on tearing women down.
I’ve been journaling each morning. I’ve been buying my inner artist child gifts. I had someone tell me to find a picture of myself when I was goofy and adorable and five years old. To put that picture up in my bathroom mirror. And each morning, to tell that picture nice things, things I wanted her to know. In short, I’ve been trying to in some ways reverse the conceptualization of my battered sense of self.
On a separate note, I’ve been reading an advanced reader copy of Kate Bollick’s Spinster. In it, she recounts, in a way both historical and personal, how marriage has been the central focus of every woman’s life. That more so than men, the question of who she will marry, or if she will marry, becomes the fulcrum on which her life spins. Bollick then examines the lives of several women writers who chose to live their lives eschewing the importance of that question: Edna St. Vincent Millay, for example. The book is fascinating as it strives to imagine another way of existing for women. I’ve been guilty myself of mooning too much in my writing about my romantic relationships. I have been but a product of the rom com, Disneyfied society in which I was raised. I can only imagine what space will open up if I shift my focus.
I’ve been busy with the start of the semester, but I can honestly say I feel as happy as I did when I first moved here. I feel purposeful. I’m enjoying the editorial work on the school’s literary journal. My students are eager and brave and genuinely interested in improving their writing skills (and they follow instructions! a thing to celebrate indeed). To my surprise, I put a bunch of poems in a single word document, expecting to find half a draft, and instead, I found 68 pages of poems. Poems that need editing and rewriting and perhaps cutting. But a full length draft nonetheless. I’m slowly trying to get back in shape and find more balance by running less, and biking, swimming, strengthening and stretching more. I’m finally sleeping better and have more energy.
I’ve also begun applying for jobs for next year–a terrifying, mundane, time consuming process. My dream would be to land a lecturer or professor position teaching writing at either a community college or a small liberal arts college. With my background teaching online and a variety of learners, from ESL to urban to international, I’m hopeful that I will find a good fit, though I recognize the process will take a long time–almost a full year (which is why I’m starting to look now).
I’ve fallen behind on submitting my work. I can’t remember the last time I did that. And so, that is a goal for this fall.