If there is one thing I've come to know about myself it's that, like a fly to a lightbulb, I am drawn to drama. Just when I've finally gained more time to myself than I've ever wanted or needed, I've gone and given a huge chunk of it away. This past week I started volunteering at a private English school not far from here, spending two full days surrounded by five- to seven-year-olds.
Do not interpret this gesture on my part as an act of martyrdom or self-flagellation. I have a purely selfish reason for this burst of melodrama: I want to know, for once and for all, if a career in teaching would be right for me. When I applied to physiotherapy school, I had to include a second choice on my application. It was teaching. As fortune would have it, I got into physiotherapy school on the first round so my fall back choice wasn't necessary, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Oh, there's no doubt that children are benefiting from this mostly introspective experiment. In only two days on the job, I've spent hours listening to children read in what, for some, is their third or fourth language. But, truthfully, it's already been enlightening. Even if I never pursue my teaching certification, I've discovered that helping children learn to read is immensely rewarding.
And what about writing, you ask? The novel? Michelle? Clarissa? What about them?
Well, I've had to switch gears, writing at night after the girls are in bed. Historically speaking, this is not my best time of day, but I am determined to plug on. I've arranged to exchange manuscripts with another children's writer on March 15th and I'd like to be as close to finished as possible. With the new time crunch, I've had to become more organized, taking time to plan in advance what I want to write before I actually sit down to do it. So far, so good. I'm 1000 words further than I was last week, which is better than nothing.
Back when I was revising The Odd Chicken Out, I asked a good writing friend how to best tackle the task. She said, "Take it one bird at a time." I did and it worked. Here's hoping I can do it again!