New Year

I’m a teacher.  For me, the new year starts when the kids come back to school in late August, and it ends when they leave again in June.  The hang time in between, the endless and unbroken weekend of no alarm-clock setting that is summertime, just came to an abrupt halt, and I’m back in the classroom.  Back on the clock.

I’ve never gone back to school kicking and screaming.  Reluctant, sure.  I’m not made of stone – I love summer.  But I also love my job, and having had a lot of jobs that weren’t true love, I know how lucky I am.

This year, it’s even easier to go back.  And even harder.  This year, there are no “I wish I’d done X” with my summer regrets.  I did exactly what I set out to do.  Now, I just wish I could keep on doing it without having to balance everything all at once.

One of the reasons I became a teacher is that I love teaching.  Another is that I knew I wanted a family, and a teacher’s schedule (depending on the teacher and how much they choose to devote themselves to additional school activities) can be a very family-friendly schedule.  The third reason I became a teacher, I told myself, was so that I could write.  But although I did write, it was slow.  And I doubted I’d finish what I started.  Sometimes it was worse than doubt.  Sometimes I really believed I wouldn’t ever do what I’d promised myself I would do, and I believed it so completely that I stopped writing sometimes, thinking that maybe it was time to stop pretending.

This summer, I finished rewriting my first book.  Well – not my first book.  There were others.  But they don’t count, because they were terrible.  Or maybe they count very much because they were terrible.  Either way, I consider the book I just finished to be my first book, because it’s the first one I love.  It’s the first one I believe in.  And it’s the first one I’m sure will be published.  I’m sure of that because, even if I can’t get it published traditionally, I will publish it myself.  That’s how much I like it. 

Still. I want to see it as a physical book.  I want to hold it in my hands, the way I’ve held so many books I love in my hands. I can’t help it.

Right now, things are looking okay.  An editor – a very good editor – likes my book.  Nothing is set in stone yet, and maybe it never will be.  The waiting game has begun, the back-and-forth conversation that happens long before publishing even comes into view, where all I can do is wonder whether this editor likes it enough, and listen to the feedback, and see if this is the kind of author-editor relationship that develops and takes that next incredible step.

There’s no knowing.  And waiting to find out isn’t easy.  It reminds me of what it was like waiting for my son to be born.  His due date came and went… and went… and went… and for those two weeks, I was emotionally suspended in a surreal sort of hyperstasis.  I knew – I couldn’t stop knowing – that something extraordinary was about to happen, and that it would change my life forever, but there wasn’t any way to know when, or even how.  I mean, technically, I knew how.  But… how?

And then he was born.  Now he’s almost two.  He’s an excellent little person, who helps a lot with the waiting.  And he’s proof every moment that time passes, not slowly, but much too quickly.

No more waiting tonight.  I don’t have time to wait, anyway.  There are things to do.  Lessons to prep.  Husband to hang out with.  Cats to feed.  Maybe some Netflix to watch.

But I’ll be waiting.


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