Thursday, October 08, 2009

Teaching and Writing - do they mix?

I've been super-duper busy since the beginning of September - the observant among you can't have failed to notice the dearth of posts here. Why? Well, I got hours teaching for Navan VEC, as well as getting my own Saturday Creative Writing classes back up and running again (in a lovely new venue, DKIT).

So something had to give; the writing. And there's the rub. If I don't write, I don't have material to work on or send out. If I don't write, I don't develop all the ideas I have percolating away. If I don't write, I start to feel a little bit nuts.

I have just been coming back to the idea of writing this last few days - that must mean that I'm getting used to the teaching - thank goodness. And I still have one unused week from my residential bursary coming up: on the mid-term break. I should feel a little guilty about going off to write for a week at Annaghmakerrig and abandoning my husband to the six mini-monsters (okay, kids), but the truth is, I don't have time to feel guilty about it.

In that magical place I'll have the space to think, walk, eat, write and fool around with words, but more importantly I'll have the space to get three mini-projects nailed that have been rocketing around my brain for the last three weeks. The best thing about having to drive to Navan from Dundalk is the head space it allows for me to think. No time wasted, eh?

I can't bloody wait!

19 comments:

Jessica Maybury said...

It drives me nuts too when I can't write! I went on holiday there for 2 weeks and felt braindead afterwards.

I suppose this time of year makes everyone think about where they've been this year and where they're going. For me this has been a year of moving on and letting go, I think. What about you?

Just finished the first draft of my novel :) Dunno if I should get anyone to read it or what.

whereimbloggingfrom said...

Oooh, sounds lovely. Enjoy. Dunno how I'd be on retreat - whether I'd thrive or put loads of pressure on myself and accomplish nothing. (I can be self-sabotaging like that.)

Rachel Fox said...

Enjoy your writing time. It is the foundation of everything!
x

Niamh B said...

Sounds Fab - enjoy the break. For what it's worth I think teaching is a perfect companion to writing - in both you're trying to communicate ideas, hopefully in an interesting way, and sometimes - if you're trying to teach writing - you can end up learning as much as you teach I guess. But it is great to take a real chunk of time like this and just devote it to the writing. Hope you get oodles done.

sunnydunny said...

Yes, there's always a conflict there, and getting the balance right isn't easy. I find that when I'm teaching I often get ideas for my own poems, but I can't write them down for fear of breaking the flow of the lesson, and when I have the time I've forgotten the original idea.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

I find teaching terribly time consuming. Too much teaching meant too little writing. So I pared it back. I miss the camaraderie, and you do learn lots from it, especially the class prep. I also miss the money.

Liz said...

Enjoy the retreat, Barbara, sounds like heaven...regarding the teaching, yeah, it is time-consuming but the 'out-and-aboutness' gets the creative juices flowing too...and then it's a case of grabing a bit of time, early morn before work is best for me ...but having said that I haven't had a minute to write a thing since July!

Desmond Swords said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Desmond Swords said...

It's a tough job, thinking up the routes within to the well of segais, which is the mythical centre of Irish poetry, circled by nine hazel trees, every nut of which contains total poetic knowledge. As Amergin tells us in the 7C Old Irish text first translated in 1978, and which is possibly the most important of the three of four texts attributed to the Homer of Fodhla's po-biz community.

The nuts

cast themselves in great quantities like a ram's fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving against the stream swifter than racehorses driven in the middle-month on the magnificent day every seven years.

When they fall into the well of Segais, which represents our pyschic centre or omphalos - the poetic potential is released and they fizz into 'imbas', the imaginative fizz of fantasy swirling in excitement within us, when we get an idea and run it.

It takes a long time to lure the bradán feasa (salmon of knowledge) which feeds on the nuts, to us, and thus ingest from them the poetic wisdom that enters their physical form when at Segais Well.

If you catch one, like in the boyhood deeds of Finn McCool and eat it, then that's you not having to study the seven years it traditionally took to reach the first rung of 'ollamh' or 'poetry professor' training.

Being a dreamer with the correct curriculum, allows one to undertake the five year 7 to 12 training the aul bards done, and become a useful and productive citizen chasing the celtic dream of not allowing anyone to but in as you pour forth on the topic of being a bore who can actually perform in that role, per se.

I saw Ciaron Carson on National Poetry day, for the first time, and felt some supernatural exchange occur in the national library. I am sure of it.

Kay said...

Ah! Don't I know where you are coming from.

Debi said...

Congrats re the teaching - just shame there has to be a pay off. There's not enough life for all the living we need to do. Enjoy that well-earned week and don't feel guilty. In an indirect way it will be for the good of all.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Does Anna have a bar at all/ Just in case like, ye never know ,one day...? Teaching? Feck it.Just write.

The WV was sihteda (straight up!) which is, neither one thing nor the other, but (almost) an anagram far too close for comfort.For what it's worth I think the computer programme that generates these apparently random conundrums is a shithead too! :)

BarbaraS said...

TFE, you bring your own with you to the long table in the evenings, where, after meals, the craic can usually be mighty. No surprise really: where you have a lot of writers and artists converging, you have a lot of creative energy flying around, and the long table has been the seat of many a creative idea - so I've been told. Some say a little lubrication is no bad thing ;)

Debi, that's just about accurate. Can I steal that line - not enough life for all the living we need to do...

Kay, I know you have this problem too. I think sometimes I'm just too impatient with what I want. Yet, when I had the luxury of more time on my hands, I felt I wasted it!

Desmond, I know exactly what you mean about Ciaran Carson's readings -they are very special - glad you enjoyed them so much. I'll be cooking my own salmon soon. Funnily enough, I've been seeing quite a few herons lately, which means something special to me.

Liz, all things help to fertilise the imagination. I've just felt so tired lately it wasn't funny. But I'm starting to feel the energy levels rise - and I guess this moment is as much a reality check - before I set off on the next bit.

N, my problem is I want it both ways, and I've no happy accomodation just now. Still. I do have a writing week coming, so jam side up, eh?

SunnyD, thanks for the words of encouragement - maybe I should carry a dictaphone for the car...

Rachel, thanks! Without it, I'm goosed.

WhereI'mblogging from - oh I can be self-sabotaging too, maybe that's why I've ended up with all this work!

Jessica, congrats on finishing the first draft. Now comes the hard part - the editing! I think this time of year is about looking back and forwards as well. More so than January, Janus' month. Good luck with the next stage!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Barbara, I have written a post which has started a debate on submission matters. Your contribution would be highly appreciated.
Best wishes, Davide

Michelle said...

Time to think and write so well deserved, Barbara. Savour every minute. I hope it's wonderful.

Rachel Fenton said...

Barbara - just read your poem "The Wish Doll" in the Horizon review and went -AAAAARGH! That's the start of my novel!- but then I read your poem - twice - and I think it'll be okay. Your poems are very beautiful and earthy altogether. They moved me.

Rachel Fenton said...

Oh, and enjoy your clarity break. I have my son's nap time - an hour each day (son willing)!

BarbaraS said...

Oh no! But how intriguing Rachel, I'm now dying to read your novel! Thanks for your warm comments about the poems, and thanks for reading HR. It looks good this issue!

Michelle, I can only guess how well your writing treat worked for you. I hope you got loads done too :)

Dominic Rivron said...

Interesting, the different ways brains function. Give me a week with nothing to do and not a single idea enters my head. Run me off my feet (this usually means teaching for me, too) and I begin to get ideas and I end up squeezing in odd moments of writing, composing or music making.