Sometimes it’s hard to know who’s knocking. Is that opportunity? Or is it a distraction?
I taught spreadsheets and databases to college freshmen until my youngest was born five years ago. Last spring my boss asked me to come back, and I did. I love teaching… it qualifies as one of those things I’d gladly do for free, although realistically I do expect to get paid. 🙂
Last year was a lot of work. I had to recreate my old lesson plans and such to go along with the college’s new system. I had to find daycare. I had to grade papers, which to me is the worst part of teaching. I had decided not to teach this year (I’m an adjunct, they only need me in the Spring Semester) because of daycare and my desire to write. But my boss said they really needed me, so I decided to dive in again.
This weekend I wrote, not a story, but a lesson plan. There are similarities. They have to make sense. I can’t bore my audience… my readers will put me down, and my students will tune out. It was work, but it was still in some ways enjoyable. It appeals to my engineering background in that it is a puzzle that must be worked out, and it appeals to my creative side because I need to present the material in such a way as to keep my students thinking.
For example, I took out a tiny toy figure of Speedy Gonzales and asked if any of them knew who it was. I teased that it was from my generation (being a kid of the seventies) not theirs. Some of them did recognize him. Next, I asked if they had any idea why a computer teacher was showing them a toy. As planned, I just got blank, curious looks. Then I took Speedy’s head off, revealing the fact that he is a thumbdrive. The lesson? Backup your files. Hopefully they will remember, and it will be a fun memory instead of one where their teacher stands in front of the class shaking her finger saying “You guys had better back up your files, or else!”
So is the fact that I’m teaching again an opportunity? Or yet another distraction from writing? It is easier this semester, since I only have to recreate what I did a year ago and can reuse or recycle most of it. It’s also a hybrid online/on campus class where we only meet every other week, which makes it much easier on the daycare situation. It definitely consumes a lot of my time, but it also brings in some money, and gives me a legitimate reason to squirrel myself away at the office when I need to instead of being distracted at home. I’ve found I can be quite productive when I’m squirreled away at the office. Something about the nuts…
Over the past couple of years I have successfully built a wonderful network of friends in the writing world. Not only other writers, but agents, editors, publishers, bloggers, and of course the most important of all, the readers. Every now and than an opportunity comes up. Sometimes it’s a call for submissions, sometimes it’s guest blogging. Sometimes it’s a little more substantial. I think any of these could be either a distraction or an opportunity. It’s all about what I make of it. As long as I keep my eyes on my long-term goal, I can create the writer’s life I want.