Friday, October 3, 2014

Soggy and Me

As you [maybe, probably, most likely] know, it's my life-long dream to be an author. But...I sort of have a day job that is a bit time-consuming. And by "a bit," I mean very, VERY, VERRRRRRY time-consuming. I'm a 7th grade Language Arts teacher (which is probably not boding well for my "very" with six Rs). I love my job, but by the time I come home, I am drained. Teaching isn't physically taxing, but mentally it takes its toll. Even if you take all of the classroom management out of the equation, the sheer number of questions I am asked every day would be enough to turn anyone's brain into mush. The bell for first period rings, and it goes something like this:

Mrs. Perkins, do you have a pencil I can borrow? Can I sharpen my pencil? I forgot my homework--can I turn my homework in tomorrow? What does that word say? Can I go to the bathroom? How old are you? What page are we on? Can I have some tissue? Are we on regular schedule or upside-down schedule? Can I change seats? Can I throw this away? Why are the announcements so hard to hear today? Can I hold Muggle (the class pet)?

That brings us about five minutes into the school day. It's not the students' fault. They don't realize that their one little harmless question, combined with the bazillion other harmless questions from their classmates, would bring any sane person to their knees. Lucky for me, I'm not a sane person. I TEACH MIDDLE SCHOOL. So I handle all of these questions like a champ, rapid-firing answers back so fast that I'm not even sure what I'm saying. But by the time I come home from work, I look something like this.

I've decided to name her "Soggy." It just seems to fit.

Does Soggy LOOK like a writer to you? Does she look like she's ready to start tapping away on her keyboard in some stream of inspiration? I mean, seriously, I can't even answer the most basic questions from my family, let alone work on a book. My daughter will ask me if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean, and I'll look at her with this empty gaze, until two minutes later, I'm like, "Huh? Something about spoons?"

Sadly, my students get the best of me. My family and my writing get Soggy.

What does this mean for my future as a writer? I admit, I suffer from a massive case of Green with Envy Syndrome when I see all of my writerly friends on twitter who have chosen writing as their career. They put their hearts and souls into their dream. And once they finish writing a book, they have the time to promote it. They can do blog tours and giveaways and explore all sorts of social networking avenues to give their book a presence.

Does Soggy LOOK like she's excited to jump on Facebook and do a blog giveaway? My poor little book--Chasing Echoes--is somehow going to have to miraculously leap from the Amazon page and sell itself, because frankly I'm lucky if I have enough willpower to compose a coherent sentence at the end of the workday, let alone sell a damn book.

I guess all of this begs the question...why don't I quit teaching and pursue my dream of being a full-time writer?

Easy. I teach for the money.

Heheheheheheheheheehee...Oh, come on, that was FUNNY.

Okay, seriously. I won't quit because not only do I love my students, they inspire me. It was my students last year who encouraged me to write my book. It was my students who asked me every single day "How's your book coming along, Miss P?" and who squealed every time I read an excerpt, with cries of "Hurry up--I can't wait to read the whole thing!"

And today, it is still my students who keep me pumped up...who refuse to let me off the hook.

(And who throw pencils at my head if I start to nod off from pulling an all-nighter).

So even though Soggy doesn't always feel like writing, she still pushes through...because she has 100-and-some hopeful faces cheering her on.

Maybe someday, I will have to choose:  Be a teacher, or be a writer. But for now, I choose both. Because somehow, being a teacher motivates me to be a writer--even if it's a writer who's a wee bit soggy around the edges.