Teaching, Writing

On being in a funk

Yesterday I described my current mood to a student and she said, “You’re in a funk, Mrs. Griswold.”

She’s right, and she named it well.  I’m in a funk.  It may the broken nights of sleep due to the 9 month old and his cold.  It might be the new class I’m teaching.  But it’s really about rejection.  This week brought two rejections from full requests.  I call them “je ne sais quoi” rejections.  “I just didn’t click with this” or “I just didn’t connect.”  This came on the heels of me abandoning a best seller, a book I fully expected to love.  And I didn’t.  I couldn’t connect, so I set itdown.

I hate it and I get it.

I think about my students who probably get back at least 2 pieces of critiqued work a day, maybe more.  And they don’t get to wallow, they have to keep moving forward onto the next unit or assignment.  So it’s a good reminder that I’m in a place of adult privilege.  I get to choose when I reach out for feedback and when I don’t.  Boohoo, Mrs. Griswold.

I printed a piece from The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates called “A Quick Note on Getting Better at Difficult Things.”  It was a 6 paragraph balm.  A boon.  He talked about learning French.  The capital S Struggle.  He quoted Carolyn Forche who said, “I’m going to have it.”  (I don’t have any tattoos, but if I did, I think it would be that sentence.)

The students loved Coates’s piece.  They liked the line, “But I also feel like I am getting better at stumbling.”

Reading that with them lifted me out of my funk, somewhat.  My gloom stems from my fear that the manuscript done for, that the error is fatal.  The worst feeling is not knowing what to fix or work on or learn.  I need to feel like I have a path out.

Maybe I just can’t have any of those answers.  I just have to wait and deal with what comes.

And begin again.  Again again.  I’ve got my next idea in the hopper.  (Is that the right metaphor?  Like a train hopper car?  Is there a grain hopper somewhere in my mind as well?)  I’m going to write something new during NaNoWriMo.

I told a student today that I feel best when I’m creating.  Because you can’t judge and create simultaneously.  Or at least, I can’t.  When I am making something, I have a beautiful feeling of flow.  I like producing.  It staves off the despair.

I’ve got my SCBWI conference this weekend.  I know that will fill my heart.  Maybe I’ll see the path out then.  Maybe there will be good news when I get through the weeds and the vines.

Also a nap.  I hope there’s a nap soon.

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