On Friday, I head out to Boston, not to the ALA Midwinter conference, but to Lesley University, where I will be a new faculty member in the Writing for Young People MFA program. I began my career teaching, and other than writing, it’s the thing I feel most comfortable doing.
I have not talked about this new career move much. Not for lack of enthusiasm, but for an overabundance of feeling overwhelmed. 2015 was a stellar year. THE JUMBIES re-launched my writing career in ways I had not imagined one book could. I spent a lot of the spring through fall traveling to conferences, book events, and to schools (my favorite), talking to readers, teachers, and other writers. I met and befriended many authors who I admire and respect. I was asked to judge a Caribbean children’s literature award, did several blog posts and videos for other sites, saw my novel selected for Scholastic Reading Club, and now I’m gearing up for conference proposals for 2016. There hasn’t been a lot of time to talk or even think about residency at Lesley, other than preparing for my students.
But today, I’m packing. So I’m slightly panicked about being away from my family for a week and a half. My family is not so thrilled about me being away either, which makes it harder.
As I contemplate how little I can take for a 10-day trip (I am determined that everything fit in my usual carry-on), I’m going over what I have prepared for the next few days…meeting students, other faculty, teaching a seminar on how to begin a story, doing readings, working with students on their stories…and I realize I’m not worried about that part at all. I know how to do this. I know how to read a group and switch up a presentation if I have to. I know how to pull things out of students that they aren’t sure they have in them.
What I am worried about is overdoing it, getting totally drained, and not having my family to re-energize me at the end of the day. So perhaps a small talisman would help.
When I return home, I go back to finishing up my next novel, working on freelance projects with publishers and individual clients through my Fairy Godauthor editing services, and doing school visits. (I still have plenty of spring slots open, btw.) But I will be more mindful of my personal time, which means I may refer some Fairy Godauthor clients to other editors or even to writing classes if I think that’s what they need. And there are lots of good ones, like “Mothering as a Creative Act” offered at The Loft and taught by one of the loveliest and smartest people I know–Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.
There’s one more big project I have in mind for 2016–working on a novel writing workshop aimed at late elementary-middle school students. This is where my MA in Education and years of working for educational publishers will come to bear. I hope it will be something I can do as a writer in residence, or provide to teachers to use on their own. Either way, I’m excited at the prospect of teaching again, and digging into more education work–this time on my own terms.