Pots on the stove

It’s nearing the end of the semester. I’m behind on grading because I’ve been applying for academic jobs and the fall semester is the main “season” for the American market. Fourteen applications down, with a few more to go, but now I have a bit of respite before the next round of deadlines.

So what I should be doing is working on my article so I can finally actually submit it somewhere, instead of only saying I’m going to do that, right? Actually, I have two articles I need to write or revise. No wait, three…

No, I have some ninety (90) essays to grade between now and Christmas, plus the backlog of homework assignments to grade. Fourteen need to be graded by Monday and I can do that, no big deal.

It’s November, and it’s the second year (third? good grief) I haven’t done NaNoWriMo. Even as I think of all of the academic work I need to do, the sundry of paperwork piling on my desks (at work and at home), the meals I need to cook so I have something to eat later, the household chores that need to be done… I just want to spend the day dreaming in my novels — outlining a bit of Orion here, making a revision plan for TFK here, reading up on screenwriting for “Masterpiece” there.

I’ve got four pots on the stove, and fiction has been on the back-burner for so long I think it’s gone cold or sticking to the bottom of the pot. At least academic research is keeping it company back there.

As always, what I want to do exceeds my capabilities and my responsibilities.

Not all roses

I am afraid that my last post about my (mostly positive) student conferences has cast too rosy a glow on my life at the moment. This is more of what an average day looks like:

  • Having to inform yet another student that they have failed the course due to too many absences.
  • Spending all weekend grading essays for one class, then realizing at 11PM on Sunday night that I haven’t done my lesson planning for the week.
  • Sitting in a parking lot at 9PM eating an overpriced sandwich for dinner–
  • –or coming home and having cereal for dinner, again.
  • When I’m not grading or lesson planning, I’m working on job applications–
  • –all the while realizing that I am one out of hundreds applying for the same twenty-two (22) medieval literature positions currently being advertised–
  • –and also aware of the fact that I’m not really a strong candidate until I manage to publish something, which I can’t do, because I don’t have time to revise my article, because of teaching and grading.
  • Wishing that being able to construct a grammatically correct sentence would be an entrance requirement for university.

Or, today’s combination of events: starting the week on too little sleep (because of staying up late to lesson plan and then having to sleep on the couch because of noisy upstairs neighbours) and after class having a student ask if I could excuse his absence from last week — without Student Life approval — because he had been in jail and didn’t want Student Life to know. I said no. (Thinking to myself: “You have to deal with the consequences of your life choices.”)

BUT, I try to find crumbs of good things, here and there. Like the comments I leave on some of my students essays:

  • “This is an essay, not a mystery novel. State your thesis at the beginning.”
  • “What are you responding to with this statement? Starting ‘in media res’ might work for fiction, but not in an essay.”