Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Head down, still moving

I haven't posted in over a month, and that's due to the start of the academic year at Bath Spa University. As some of you know, for some years I've been coordinating a class with over 200 students, the first-year core course in creative writing. I love the teaching part of it and despise the administrative. Well, I don't despise the administrative work--I just get frustrated with how many hours of my life it demands. 

While I've known for some time that the number of hours necessary to do the job well results in significantly less writing during the academic year and poorer health, I've persisted--until now. The heaviest amount of work for this class is at its beginning and end, and this year, a colleague will be taking over the module for the middle months, January through April. Thus I have been counting down the weeks to winter break not just for that three weeks' relief from teaching and constant emails, but also in anticipation of a more manageable workload in the new year. 

It's all the more heartening, during this time, when magazines come in the post bearing my poems. I have poems in the current issues of Ambit, New Walk, Poetry Wales and Shearsman and dip into them for a few minutes here and there. I see the names of other poets I know and smile, as though we've just waved to each other in passing.

The fantasy of more time is always there, yet most of us have to make a living and strike a balance between the work and the writing. This seems to be the recurring theme in the conversations I've been having with other writers lately, perhaps because with my own workload I am that much more desperate for possible solutions. Some people get up earlier in the morning. Others choose part- over full-time work, trading in greater financial security for more personal fulfillment (to oversimplify). I thought I made that choice, too, with a .7 contract (3 1/2 days a week), but the problem with academic contracts is that one always has to work far more hours than one is actually paid for to get the job done. 

On that note, I should return to my university inbox and tackle the latest urgency.

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