I am lucky that I have two passions: writing and teaching writing. For the past four years, I pursued just the writing and I wasn’t teaching at all. Some people claimed it was a waste of a good doctorate, but I didn’t care – I just worked on my freelance career and a whole lot of fiction. Last year around this time, I decided to pursue an advertisement in a local magazine for a writing (English) teacher at a local international high school. It’s important to note that it’s an international school, because it’s not primarily Japanese and it runs on an American calendar, not a Japanese one that begins in mid-April. If I am going to work outside the home, I need to make sure that it doesn’t affect the kids in any real way, and part of the kids’ lives – and mine – is a long summer in the U.S. with family and friends. Well, I got the job. It seemed perfect – just mornings and though it was every day, I’d be done by 11:30am. Of course when you have a job is when it’s easiest to get a job, and I got an email from Temple University (there is a Tokyo branch of the Philadelphia school!) that they needed adjunct instructors. I had worked there in the past and loved it – it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.
Well, autumn came and I started teaching every morning and two afternoons a week for only 2 hours. It was busy, but I could do it. Then I found out that two courses were available to me if I wanted them at Temple, starting from January.
So since January, I’ve been teaching at the high school every morning and then three afternoons a week, I teach at Temple from 12-5. Between actual face-time with students and prep work, things have been more than slightly out of control. House stuff has been shunted aside. I haven’t been fully present for the kids in the evenings because I’m constantly thinking about something else. And our healthy eating habits have been slipping.
But here’s the worst effect: I haven’t been writing. I have been pretty good about the blog and my writing for “A Hopeful Sign” but other than that, nothing. I haven’t written an article in months and not a single word of fiction. I miss it so much! I have characters running around in my head with nowhere to go. I have article ideas and no time to pitch them to potential editors. My time has been just that limited.
The good news is that the university classes end in just over a week. I still have grading to do, which will take about a week, but right away my time will be my own in the afternoons. And I’ve decided to give up the high school completely. It’s not fair to our lives for me to work every day – other things really slip through the cracks. A few times a week is perfect. Of course, Temple is having enrollment issues, and there might not be classes for me to teach, but I’ll be okay with whatever they have. So after the long summer break, I will come back to a modified schedule.
I can’t wait to start writing again after next week. I wonder what I’ll do first. Articles? Fiction? Creative nonfiction? Who knows! All I knew is that I will have the time to write again and I will be overjoyed. I miss it madly now and can’t wait to re-start. I’ve learned a lot of lessons this school year and hopefully some of them stick. The best part is the clarity I have on what balance looks like for me. Balance doesn’t look the same for every person and every person has to find it for himself, but for me, balance has more writing and less teaching in it.
The knowledge is power. Onward ho!