What It Could Look Like

This summer my daughter Annie took an on-line math class. She needed to complete it successfully so that she could begin a “math for educators” sequence this fall. It was a struggle — and it’s not over yet (she didn’t pass with a C, but is trying to make up some assignments). Sometime in the depths of July, I was encouraging her (berating her? it was a fine line) to spend some time on the class, and she accused me of not believing in her. “You don’t think I can do this,” she said. No, Annie, I don’t think you can pass your math class by watching NCIS and CSI obsessively, running around with your friends, going to Yakima without internet access for a week…okay, that sounds like berating.

My older two daughters are not good at math. We’ve hired tutors. We’ve had to deal with remedial classes. We’ve endured many D’s and a couple of F’s. But I do think that Annie can successfully complete college-level math — if she focuses.

And my dreams?

I am returning to the college today — my first contract day of the 2012-2013 academic year. I intend to write my way through this year. I will once again be leading the Writing Lab for faculty and staff. I plan to host a fiction workshop (do you hear that, Beverly?) one evening each week. I have a 9-day writing retreat at the Gell Center in October. But I don’t think it will take tons of heavy-lifting for me to be successful — to finish my novel rewrite, my article for historylink.org, my poetry send-out — it will, however, take focus. Given that I have a family, a house, a mom who needs attention, students — I’m willing to settle (for now) for short bursts of focus.

But I would also like to imagine that next fall I will be embarking on a new career as a full-time writer. A writer who teaches, instead of a teacher who writes.

Here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes from Madeline L’Engle:

We live under the illusion that if we can acquire complete control, we can understand God or we can write the great American novel. But the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord or hope to be part of the creative process, is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control.

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