teaching as a writer

I’m looking at my last post and seeing how frustrated I was. Grading assignment after assignment can do that to you. Three sections of composition can take a good amount of energy from you. And really teaching has given me so many opportunities. I shouldn’t knock it. Now I worry concerning time and writing–I worry that grading takes me from the writing. Takes me from my manuscripts. It all reminds me of how in grad school peers would complain around me about the workload and the time to create fiction. And as MFA students we all complained over teaching and writing. My answer was that it all was nothing as a real job–nothing like a real job. Nothing like the hard work from the stories of the Grandfather and Grandmother. Nothing like long and mindless shifts of breaking down cardboard boxes and unloading of trucks. I have to get back into that mindset. The creating of fiction has never been a chore for me. I have to find that mindset again.

And yet I am so fortunate to have work that is in my field. I think of the past week and all we’re discussing. There is so much here that interests me. We’re discussing Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion and literary minimalism. Discussing Tom Spanbaeur and Amy Hempel and Palahniuk’s ideas on literary minimalism. How to focus on technique rather than meaning. And in a way I feel I have surpassed some of the lectures I’ve received in the past–literary minimalism was given to me by analysts of lit rather than writers of fiction. So I feel I am giving my students a different perspective on the study of fiction. Teaching them how to teach like a writer. Teaching like a writer. And at the same time I feel I am developing myself as a writer–reading and rereading theory on the crafting of fiction.

And this summer I have the opportunity to meet with some writers I know and admire at the school’s expense–if I can get my proposal organized. And I also have the opportunity to take a sabbatical soon and write at the school’s expense. So I hope I can stay positive in the idea of teaching and being a writer. And again I consider myself very lucky to teach as a writer.

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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.

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