Everything I learned this summer…

Creative Writing Group

I didn’t think about my students when I was in Edinburgh this summer.  I meant to, of course. But I didn’t. I didn’t think about them when I was investigating every cafe that JK Rowling might have written in, when I was attending poetry readings in large white rooms with abstract black and white art, or when I was being drenched with rain while we all climbed Arthur’s Seat.  I didn’t think about them when I was writing for hours in any cafe that would have me, or when I was falling in love with everything my peers had written, or when my friends and I would walk into pubs with freshly signed books of poetry clasped in our hands. I didn’t think about them at all.


I didn’t think about my students at all this summer.  But when it was time to start attending those ever so inspiring day long meetings at the end of August, when it was time to arrange desks in my room and figure out how to work the new smart board, I did not have the same sense of anxiety that normally creeps in during the first week of August.  I did not mourn the summer, or wonder aloud where all the time had gone. I knew where it had gone. It was in cups of coffee from Brew Lab, it was in Fringe posters that lined any available surface in Edinburgh, it was on the table that my seminar group gathered around three times a week, it was in the snooze button that could only be pressed once because there was so much fun to be had and so much work to do.  It was in the first four chapters of my novel.


I didn’t think about my students at all this summer.  But when school started again, the first thing I told them about myself was that I spent the summer writing in Edinburgh.  I told them about the poetry evenings, how I *almost died* when I went hiking in Glencoe by myself, and how they are seniors and they could absolutely spend their next summer what I had just spent my summer doing too.  And when we started writing our personal essays I brought out poems and flash fiction that we’d studied in seminar. And when we had one on one appointments I told them to “let all the verbs and nouns do the heavy lifting” and I told them to take out their sentences that were only a six or a seven so that their nines and tens had full range to shine.  Everything that I had learned this summer while I was absolutely not thinking about my students came spilling out into my classroom.


This summer, I recommend that you don’t think about your students.  Not for one single second. Instead, think about yourself. Pour your attention into your own work.  Read new things. Discuss it all with new people. Also, do it all in Edinburgh. Art and literature are what keep the cobblestones glued together there.  Fall in love with writing and with literature all over again. Fall in love with your own work. When you come home you will feel fresh, and it will all come pouring out into your classroom.  I promise.

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