the beat(ing of my head against the desk) goes on

Posted: December 8, 2010 in domestication, expatriate, marriage, wife, husband, house

A day that will live in infamy: the day I get off my ass (or back on my ass, as the case may be) and get back to the writing, the writing that so desperately is a part of me, that is so elemental to my basic functioning, that helps me organize (or at least vomit a little bit of) my thoughts before I open my big yap in a social setting and embarrass myself.

So, as my last semester in South Korea winds down at the bureaucratically handicapped institution at which I work (or is it more PC to say bureaucratically challenged? Or bureaucratically idiotic?), I have yet another 15 weeks essentially unaccounted for as a writer. A writing teacher is only that: a writing teacher (or so the case may be for this literary never-was-but-still-dilusionally-thinks-he-can-be). A writing teacher in an ESL setting is constantly trying to anticipate incessant questions and head them off with a preemptory PowerPoint or an additional grammar practice worksheet. And he becomes wrapped (or warped) in the burgeoning thoughts and rhetoric and developing grammar and faulty sentence structures of his students. 2AM and I could be still awake (or am I dreaming?), wondering if I’ve taught effectively enough to be quizzing the grammatically destitute on parts of speech. Oh, for the nights when waking up from dead sleep revealed a brilliant twist in plot or turn of phrase hanging in the air above my bed! But, alas! It’s the dreaded gerund dripping with a fetid goulash of verb use and noun form!

After more than sixty weeks of developing three new writing curriculums essentially on my own, I look back and realize that most of my own writing (aside from four or five quality short shorts) has actually been editing my 170,000 word, seven-year old ever to-be-published novel. This is what I call “mining,” an effort to take something out of the unpolished writing of the past as with much of the second half of my first manuscript. The best I can hope is, perhaps, that people won’t be able to notice (except if they read it here) that I have merely polished a piece of shit. Maybe the method of “mining” should be renamed to “turd-polishing.” But, being the wordsmith that I purport to be, I should give it a more positive spin: “shit-sculpting.” Not only does the alliterative quality have a ring to it, it also fits the idea that when faced with a writer’s block of wood (or shit, as the case may be), I can eventually make something out of it, crap or not. It’s a stretch, but the title of this “blog” might be “Writer’s Block,” a two-month series of warm-ups before each writing day begins.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever have Norman Mailer’s Herculean prowess for 3,000 to 4,000 words a day, or if I’ll be able to balance a successful career (to say nothing of marriage and family) and my own writing like Dave Eggers. But, by putting this mumbojumbo of mine out in cyberspace for my run up to the Asian trail in February, at least it will hold me accountable, if only to myself. My diminutive fan base (though I’m unsure if any vertically challenged read my consistently inconsistent “blog”) for “Time and Circumstance” has surely diminished in number (if not stature) because of my spotty consistency as a blogger (why do I hate that word so much?). Here, though, I will renew my efforts to fill in the gaps in Nepal training (a theme I let slide into disuse back in September, overrun by student papers and other such excuses). Also, I will include updates for writing projects, to say nothing of the preparation to uproot once again, the 24th or 25th time since 1995 I will have moved).

This time, I move nowhere but toward the unexpected (Nic’s applications are finished for grad school and we could end up in any corner of the homeland: western New York state; Lubbock, TX; Bowling Green, OH; Milwaukee, WI; Pullman, WA). For the next two months, I will try to daily chronicle the preparations for becoming a contemporary gypsy with my new wife, three changes of clothes, a pen, and some paper. And nothing else. I here declare my flirtation with the idea of three months totally unplugged from the evil distractions of the internet.

A writer writes. An observer observes. A hermit meditates and subsists. A fearful writer comes up with excuses not to write. Come February, this modern nomad will observe the trails, temples and mountainsides of SE Asia and Nepal, subsisting on the meditations in writing missives (although one-sided because I will have no P.O. box on the Annapurna Circuit) to people back home. Sloppy penmanship and all, snail mail may be the way to maintain my focus to re-learn the discipline that I preach to my writing students.

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