It is a strange time of year. I guess I feel it every May/June, but with social distancing and distance learning, I am being hit especially hard.
At this point, the writing projects that have been filling my time are either coming to a close or have shifted. Grad school is done for the semester. I have established and streamlined routines and communication with distance learning. And, I have taken a backseat to writing for the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project’s Distance Learning column, which I created in March. Instead, I am the editor and publisher for this Monday feature. Currently, writers are lined up through the end of June.
The informal, action research I started earlier this school year on student leadership has been put on hold with distance learning. Although students are still sharing their work as mentor texts and writing inspirations through our learning management system, we are unable to co-teach lessons which had been the main focus of this inquiry project. And so, I am exploring a new idea: what we can learn from distance learning to enhance classroom practices.
This is also a time where I dedicate more energy to my creative writing–make more headway with Defiance. I think I will also begin exploring and narrowing my ideas down for my thesis that I plan to start in Spring 2021.
I guess what this all comes down to is uncertainty. What will I write? Sometimes this looming question can seem daunting. Even though I know I will write creatively and professionally, the specific what and what direction I will take offers so many–maybe too many–possibilities. In some ways the openness is the very thing that can cause me to freeze up and not write.
This is the time each year that I need to push through. That I need to listen to my heart and intuition. That I need to focus on one line. Start small and see where that seed takes me. I don’t have to have everything planned out.
And so, one line at a time, one idea at a time I venture into this new wriitng time.
As I sit in my kitchen in front of the open window with the setting sun barely peeking out from above the apartment building running parallel to mine, my mind floats to tomorrow, another day of distance learning. I still need to send out the email invites to the students who would like to meet for our small-group reading and writing conferences. I am reminded of the advice I tell them when they have finished one writing piece and are looking to start another.
Whether they have writer’s block, need to quick write, or find a seed idea in their notebooks, they all have something in common: the drive to keep going. Of course I am pushing them along, supporting their process, offering tips and suggestions. But, they still need to take the advice and put it into practice. One of my favorite lines is this: When you are deciding where to go next, it’s the most exciting time because you have so many different directions to explore.
Now that I find myself at the same crossroads, I need to take my own advice. I believe the above statement wholeheartedly for my students–now I just have to believe it for myself.