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Next Step Blues

30 Jan

I finished something. Well several somethings. I think I may have mention that I’m writing a lot recently. Six mornings a week I trudge out of bed, turn on my computer, coffee maker and write. I’ve written two movies in the last few weeks and I feel great! Of course that does bring you to the age-old question: what’s next?

You’ll find this is a constant question with me. I often fluctuate between wanting to get my work produced and see the work on-screen and wanting to pretend the movie was never written. When I was writing poetry it was generally the same thing. I wrote a lot but I didn’t submit a lot. At least though with Poetry I had a very good understanding of what the next step was. Once you have a polished(I don’t say finished because I know some people never feel a poem is done) poem you begin submitting it to literary magazines or to poetry contests. When it comes to film I’m sort of at a loss.

Even fiction writers have a clear idea of what they are doing. I’m at a loss. Internet searches provide the same answer: get an agent or submit to producers though many of them won’t walk to you unless you have an agent or are working with a producer.  The quest begins with a lot of phone calls, emails, letters and it’s slow going. The advice also usually has a large dose of “move to  LA” in it. Something that at this moment I am in no way prepared to do.  So what will I be doing next? Editing, querying and calling. Nothing else to do about it!

I’ll be searching the web for agents names, seeing who represents whom and hopefully getting a film made. Wish me luck 🙂

You gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em

16 Jul

As promised this post is about knowing when to give up writing. I guess the title of this post suggests that I do have an idea of when this should be done but to be honest, I have no idea.

I’ve been writing this blog for how long now? almost two years. Fall 2010 begins the journey. Have I always done my posts? No way. Do I often feel like I’m not saying anything? All the time. When I am on, I feel like I am on and when I’m off I feel way off. I think for me, I struggle with agendas. Where do I want this blog to be? What “brand” am I creating with my posts? Does it matter? Do you sometimes write long letters to yourself about where you want to be right now and how off that path you are? I think about doing things like that. But I stop myself. So do I give up my blog becuase I don’t want the pressure of having to give one side of myself all the time or do I expand the blog to accommodate the multiple facets of me? Or do I start a new  blog which is solely focused on the everything else that my life presents.  I love to read all of these beautifully written blogs that focus on one thing but I struggle with how to write one.

My poetry is another story. The energy to write a poem has drained from my heart and I feel like I have forgotten what it means to write poetry. There is a lot of prose here. The desire to write essays, academic papers, plays, movies, and all sorts of words that I would not call poem. But is it a part of poetry to expand beyond genre and write what I need to write.

A part of me thinks that community has a lot to do with the problem. They say 3 in 10 MFA in Creative writing grads keep writing after they finish the degree. I have a feeling this is because they miss the community of writers and being around people who also believe this writing is worth it. This work is so much better than anything else I could be doing. Or at least just as important. That’s how  I feel right about now. I live in a place with little to no literary culture but is on the outskirts of a culture that lives and breaths and grows. Sometimes I think about not writing another poem ever again. But the thought makes me cry.

So I guess that’s where I am. The intersection of perfect balance and disheveled chaos. I’m leaning towards letting the lines bleed. Maybe this thing I’ve been trying to do where I don’t include certain things and I omit isn’t working for me. I omit so much of my life within my life already. What do you think readers: do we give up on keeping our pretty pink bows on or do we just put down our pens and turn off the lights?

I had considered

15 Jul

I had considered writing a long post about the struggles of finding time to write but i am constantly writing that. So then the question comes… Do you keep writing?

Im going to talk some more about it later this week but i want to put the question in the air. Give up or keep fighting with words for words.

What Does It Take To Teach?

28 Jun

It’s Tuesday and I feel like getting philosophical with you about Education. What makes a great teacher and what does it take to teach? This is a question that has been going through my mind a lot recently. During my MFA, I constantly said I didn’t think that I would ever be a teacher. Not because I hate the idea of teaching or because I thought it would be too much work or not worth the pay but because I was insecure about my abilities to teach. So as post-MFA ideas swirl through my head the idea of teaching seems to resurface over and over again.

Everyone I know says I would be a great teacher. Truth be told I love to educate people. I’m pretty great about explaining concepts and I love helping people gain new understanding but I’ve never felt that was good enough. As a perfectionist I sort of feel that I have to know everything in order to be a great teacher and I’m slowly coming to the realization that, I really don’t have to know everything. When I consider my favorite teachers, they didn’t know everything and it didn’t change anything.

What makes a great teacher(from my experience)?

Investment in Students. You see this in the movies all the time. Every other teacher has been put in this classroom full of hard knock kids and they all fail because they give up. Then in walks the teacher who has too much drive, faith and hope to give in and this changed everything. As cheesy as it sounds you do need faith in your students and a little drive. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. R, was great about this. I didn’t have a great elementary school experience, I faked ill and often didn’t come to school to avoid some bullies. I could have ended up like a lot of children, and been lost in the system. This was pre-No Child Left Behind and I could have easily been moved up into the next class. But Ms. R didn’t give up on me. She made time to go over information with me, let me use her electronic word processor (yes I mean no-internet computer)  and really invested herself in making sure that I not only moved into sixth grade but that I understood what I needed to in order to succeed.

 Ability to Act as a Resource. I have told myself that I can’t be a teacher because I don’t know everything but I think whats truly important isn’t that you know everything but that you know how to find out about things. This is something that I use in my current job all the time. I am not an expert on every activity that we do or on every procedure but I am great about using my resources, not just talking to people but also looking at emails, using google, and thinking things through. A great teacher knows how to show her students how to use their resources so they can be a success on their own.

Passion. This one is sort of cliché but I still think its true. It’s the issue that organizations with alternate teaching experiences (i.e.- Teach for America, etc) are trying to help with. It’s not always about what you know but sometimes the desire to do it is enough to get you through. I’m not saying you shouldn’t know anything about the subject that you’re teaching but I’m saying that not having a credential or a  Master’s or whatever doesn’t mean you aren’t a great teacher.  The thing I loved about College and one of the reasons that I think so many people enjoy learning in the college classroom is that the professors are all engaged in what they are teaching. It’s related to their research or their core intellectual interests and in most cases you can tell by the way they teach. For those teaching K-12, it’s not so easy.  There are so many requirements for what teachers must teach and these days they tend to be teaching toward a test and not general education and the desire to engage students in something interesting. This can drag them down. It’s sad to see and this, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why we see a lot of new teachers high tailing it to the corporate world instead of continuing teaching. I hope we can work on this issue and instill passion in our teachers.

The other reason why teaching is on the brain for me is my degree. If you don’t know the MFA (Master’s in Fine Arts) is a terminal degree. That means I could teach in college if I wanted to. Which is a scary thought, do you want a 23-year-old teaching your 20-year-old? It feels weird to even consider the possibility. Sadly, for a lot of my peers specifically in community colleges I would be younger than they are and their teacher. I don’t know how I would feel about it if I were in the class. My MFA professors said that age isn’t really important when you’re teaching but I don’t know if it means nothing at all. And if age matters should I be waiting a few years before really considering the career?

So what does this mean for me? Right this second nothing. But the more that I think about my future the more teaching maybe an option. If you’d asked me six months ago if I would be thinking this way, I’d have told you were nuts. Instead, I’m seriously considering it.

Are you a teacher? What do you love most about teaching? What advice would you give people who are considering teaching? If you’re not a teacher, what qualities do you think make a great teacher and what qualities do you think are essential if you are going to teach? I look forward to your thoughts!