Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This morning we stare at each other, my work and I. The winter weather has broken, likely only for a blink, but this week it's in the 60s and the ice and snow is melting and pouring into the creekbeds that have been dry for months. I am easily 50% feline, and can stare down the best of 'em. But I can't outstare my work. Today it's so close I feel I can reach out and snatch it up with one hand, and I want to. I want to grab it and keep it tight so I don't have to keep wondering about it. But instead I watch it watching me. I try (ah, so foolish!) to figure out what it's thinking. What it wants me to do.

My brain is beginning to swim with topic sentences, basic grammar, and the beginnings of student stories. Yesterday I spent two class periods working on paragraphs with my developmental students. What detail can we add here to make this memory more vivid? Can you see how we've got two separate thoughts here, joined only by a comma? Let's look at chapter 16 in the book - Run on Sentences. Do you see how your topic sentence is about how cell phones have changed in the past five years, but what you've written about is why you love your cell phone? It's a slippery slope once we reach this point in the semester. I adore teaching, but I find myself stuffed with 90 different minds -- 90 different ways of thinking -- and it grows harder to hear myself. I don't know any writers who teach writing full-time who don't struggle with this every semester. Practice emptying out before going to work. Empty out after work. That's why I go to yoga classes after work. They create a break from 90 minds and return me to my own.

Today, the work glitters. It's a beautiful mirage -- Las Vegas like -- all glitz and facades. But Vegas lights mask the heartbeat of Nevada. I see shimmering covers for the book. I see glowing reviews. But I open the book and I see emptiness. I even think I hear laughter. What are you doing? What are you thinking? You're not even remotely ready to go where I want you to go, it says. Not even close. But there's all that sparkly red and purple glitter. There's the seduction of the writing itself. The "I love you-go away" push pull of the process that slams us, addicts all, up against its walls.

"What do you most not want to say?" It shouts. "Go on! Coward!"

I open my mouth. Nothing. I decide to click over to Zappos.com and look at expensive shoes. I click back. It's still waiting. What do you most not want to say? I feel it, whatever that answer is, banging against my ribs, pushing up underneath my tongue. I sneeze and cough today. It is beginning to move. It is beginning to eke out, letter by letter.

What do I most not want to say? Ha. Guess you better read the book.

No comments: