I was melancholy yesterday. But perhaps I am simply melancholy by nature. I was thinking about my unfinished manuscript and how I haven’t devoted much time to it since last summer when I was a professor and I had three months off with pay. There’s a common misconception that teachers have it easy because they get summers off, but teaching (especially when you’re a conscientious teacher who pushes your students) can be incredibly draining. I spent the first three weeks of my summer vacation recuperating from two semesters of 16-20 hour work days. Yep! That was my average schedule. Every once in a while, I had two days where I only had to grade for seven hours (i.e., one class’s essays), but from Monday to Thursday, I worked 16-20 hours a day. Needless to say, I didn’t have any writing time during the fall and spring semesters. During Thanksgiving break, winter break and spring break, I was always grading. This was one of the main factors in my decision to quit my job as a professor.
One of my favorite memories of being a professor is this: I was sitting in my office one Saturday afternoon trying to decide which poems I would assign to my creative writing class. I chose two: Audre Lorde’s “Woman” and Pablo Neruda’s “The Hurt.”
These lines seized my heart:
1) …your night comes down upon me/like a nurturing rain (Lorde); and
2) I have hurt you, my dear/I have torn your soul (Neruda).
These lines confirmed what I have known for a long time. Writing is my lover. When I open myself to him, he is nurturing. He is attentive and selflessly giving. When I close myself to him, when I don’t give him the attention he requires, he gnaws at me and tears my soul apart.
So I give him whatever he wants, whatever he needs. I don’t care what people say. I don’t care if they think I’m crazy for leaving a secure job where I was respected. I ignore the judging look on their faces when they ask if I want children and I say, “No, I want books.” I don’t give a shit if people think I need to “settle down” and “stop dreaming about being a writer.” I need my lover, and I will do whatever it takes to keep him.