While the stress is away, the mice will play

You can’t imagine (or if you’re a student, maybe you can!) the difference I feel this week now that all my classes are over.

Teaching is like a never-ending debt: there is always one more paper to grade, email to answer, Powerpoint to tweak, or handout to print. I was always looking ahead to the next class, next assignment, next exam. I guess it’s like that with most jobs, but for a while now I’ve been wishing for a job I can leave at the office, rather than take to bed with me. And I don’t mean that I was thinking about it in my sleep (although I was; some nights I took Gravol so I could stop teaching in my dreams), but I actually took my work to bed. Between the dictionary, textbooks, laptop, and student papers spread across the bed, there was barely room for my husband!  (And that’s a shame because, even after 10 PM, he still uses more complete sentences than my students’ papers.) I envied him for being able to do his work from 8:30-4:30 and then come home and read or think whatever he wanted to, for getting paid for every hour he works, and for getting coffee breaks with people who keep him sane. (Not that he needs help. I do. When I spend too many hour alone with student essays and lecture notes, I start talking to myself and I don’t like what she says.)

Without the pressure of the classroom, the ideas for my blogs are coming faster than I could get them down! I’ve always felt more creative in the summer; I thought it was the weather. (In Manitoba, everybody emerges from a low grade depression in April.) I didn’t realize it was the change in my internal barometer, not the meteorologists’ that made the difference. But even with the end of the college year, for the past three years I haven’t had complete relief because I was always mentally (emotionally?) preparing for the next new course the following year. Now that I’m taking a year off teaching, I have nothing to do but write!

Of course, I am starting two new (writing!) positions next week, so I will owe a “debt” of work to a new employer. But I’ll be paying in words, rather than in grades and Powerpoints, so I’m not worried! Certainly not about copy editing. I’m a little nervous about the historical research position, mostly because it’s so vague. (“Find all the human interest stories in the development of the Stewardship Ministries department of the MB Conference. Oh, but first you need to figure out who all the humans are that have those stories.” I have not doubts that once I find the humans, I’ll be able to draw the stories out of them–that’s what I do best.)

It’s made me realize that the best thing I can do for myself as a writer, is to relax (play, rest, trust) as a human being.