Process–Teaching and Writing

Even though my job is so rich in the subject of writing, I do feel the teaching overshadows the writing. As a teacher, I rarely discuss anything other than grading and classroom technique with other teachers. We just all assume we know what strong writing is and rarely practice the act–I don’t know of any other instructors on campus that send me writing the way I send my writing out to D and other instructors.

But teaching is an incredibly important part of my writing process. Or at least I have struggled to make it an important part of my process this past year. I feel I am learning this slowly as I progress as a working and teaching writer.  

This term I have taught in the mornings and mid-afternoons and then I have retreated to my living room to park at my laptop in order to get down the Little Lolo Stories and to finish up the Cornbread Project. I listen to music and hack away at my laptop before preparing for classes. And I do think I am at a place with my teaching I can lean on my syllabus and lean on my classroom technique in order to spend more time writing and revising. And I feel I have needed that schedule to be productive and so I hope I can keep the level of productivity I have grown to establish. Can I stay as efficient and productive out of school? Do I need the structure and the freedom within that schedule to write effectively? 

I worry about this the way only a writer can worry he or she won’t return to a draft–you never know when something will be abandoned. Away from the teaching I do hope I can revise my stories and revise Little Lolo Stories much more closely. At least I hope I can keep my afternoons with the fictive spaces and the imagined voices I’ve created. I hope the voices will still speak to me an push me to get the drafts down.

But these past few days I have been only grading and figuring final grades–finishing up final office cleaning for the summer. Cleaning off of my desktop–real and virtual. And though the long academic term can seem so tiring and I do feel as my students, fatigued with the term and the work of school. I recognize this as I have my afternoons back to rest and catch up on my own thoughts. Mostly I want to rest and not think about school. But as I take the time to look back I see how this term has been so productive and yet, now, I am feeling that production slowing down. So can I keep up my own work as I have these last 16 weeks?

And I do have so many books I’d like to get to–and not just read but study a bit.  Books I’ve purchased and books I’ve been lent by students and friends. I’d like to get out and rest a bit as I have only been traveling from campus to home for 16 weeks. I hope to get out and experience time outside–hiking and walking and just getting away from the routine I feel I need and also I feel I need a break from.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

2 thoughts on “Process–Teaching and Writing”

  1. Sharing some of the same feelings and anxieties you’re talking about– “I, too, have felt bound yet empowered by structure.”


  2. You told me that you have to steal the time. And you’re right. Even when you have all of the minutes of the day to yourself, you still have to steal the time to write. Don’t let it slip. Your writing is one of the things that keeps me motivated.

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