Academia Hampers Fiction

I’m a university instructor.  That’s one of my jobs.  And for the last four months, I’ve been writing classes.  For the last four months, I haven’t been writing fiction.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I had this same sort of stilted freeze when I started writing again after grad school.  The writing that you have to do for academia, be it as a student or a teacher, simply doesn’t match up with what I do for fiction.  And I find it very very difficult to switch back and forth.  I’m afraid this doesn’t bode well for the next year, as I have at least one or two other classes to develop before year’s end.  From scratch.  Meaning reading whole textbooks and other resources and writing lectures and exams and all sorts of things not fiction.  It’s important that I do this, as continuing to develop my classes and expanding my teaching opportunities is part of what will ultimately (hopefully) net me the ideal regular job to compliment my writing (and will hopefully allow me to drop my present Evil Day Job when we have children so that I don’t have to continue to work three jobs to pay for day care).  But I really really am having a hard time finding a balance right now between the two.  I can plot well and plan things out as I’m writing classes.  But actual writing…I’m finding it very very difficult to wrap my brain around it.  Yeah I know, whine, whine, gripe, moan, moan.  Play that tiny violin.

I’m just so…frustrated with the whole thing.  It drives me nuts that if I allow myself more than a few days off of writing, of stringing those words together, I seem to forget how to do it.  I have no idea how tall the mountain of crap is that I need to write to get back to normal.  Pretty tall, I fear.  And how to juggle that with the 3 exams I still need to write for the class I’m teaching now, all the grading (and God help me, their papers are due next weekend), and write the proposal for the next class I’m going to teach.  It makes me wonder if this is going to be another of those years where I don’t get much written on a fiction front.  If I’m just going to do a helluva lot of plotting while I get these classes written (because, thank God, once they are written and put together, I don’t have to do that over again) and put off the writing until I can focus on it.  But that is not an option I care to contemplate.  I need to somehow make the time, though I already spent February knocked on my butt because I was overworked and underslept and we’re only two months into the year.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is a long-term game.  I will not always be working 3 jobs.  The debt will get paid off and things will slow down.  But somehow, somehow I’ve got to get back into it.


2 thoughts on “Academia Hampers Fiction

  1. I’m working 70-80 hours a week myself, so I feel your pain. On the rare occasions when my free minutes congeal into one lump of time in which writing becomes a possibility, I mostly stare at those funny little lines already on the page and wonder how they got there because I sure can’t make more.

    I’m making an effort to put myself at the writing spot whenever I get those minutes, though, instead of assuming nothing will happen and choosing to do fill-in-the-blank instead. It’s like showing up at work on a holiday to cover phones that never ring. I might twiddle my thumbs the whole time, but if something DID happen, it would be shame if I wasn’t there.

    In the meantime, I just keep reminding myself, this too shall pass… like a kidney stone.

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