Today’s guest blogger is Sharon-Ilona Hecht
With Christmas fast approaching, I find I have more and more to do and less and less time in which to accomplish anything meaningful. This isn’t an original thought, but there are times I feel like Alice Through the Looking-glass. I’m with the Red Queen and she is urging me to run faster and faster simply to keep in place. (She’s telling me “… it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=CarGlas.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=2&division=div1)) Well, obviously, if I could “run at least twice as fast as that,” I wouldn’t be blogging these thoughts.
Worse than being slow, I also somehow lose my place easily. It isn’t all my fault, of course. Like most adults, I have only so much control over my day-to-day life. I’m dictated to not only by the wants and needs of my family but by those of my students as well. And, oh, my students … more and more they seem to be depending on my goodwill (well, ’tis the season) to allow them to turn in assignments late and at their convenience, not mine. But I’m I downhearted?
Perhaps a little. You see, I start each day with a plan. I write down those items I mean to complete that day. For example, today as I sit and write this, it is Friday, and Friday is the day on which I seize the opportunity to be a writer and not a teacher. At least, that’s the plan. (I’d rather describe this as a “plan” than a “flight of fancy,” which probably comes nearer the mark.)
But my plans come unstuck, particularly at this time of year. Like good intentions, this plan is paving my way to a personal hell.
Hope springs internal, however, so this morning I settled down with my customary mug of hot tea, a warming heater switched on under my desk, and opened a Word document. And there it is before me, my masterwork, my great American novel, my dream of immorality (or at least a little extra cash). Except …
Except I find myself inexorably drawn to a Website that hosts the on-line university at which I teach Modern American History. Because I’m an eminently responsible person, I feel a sort of moral obligation to check my e-mails—just in case.
I log on and wait with increasing dread to see what’s waiting for me in the mailbox. What do I find there? There are the inevitable e-mails from students, telling me they’ve turned in late assignments because Christmas commitments got in the way and they knew I would understand.
So here I am. It’s Friday afternoon. I’ve managed to spend precisely thirty minutes on my novel. The rest of the time has been spent teaching.
Don’t misunderstand me. I love teaching. But (and here’s that caveat you knew was coming), what of the unfulfilled writer in me?
Moreover, what of that editing commitment I’d like to undertake?
I resign myself to the fact that I won’t accomplish either of them, not this time of year. I have to sit back and react rather than plan.
But I promise myself it’ll be different next year. I’m going to start planning now to make it different next year.
And I know I’ll succeed, until next year comes and my plans go awry again. Then I’ll identify with Alice once more, and I’ll run as fast as I can just to stay in place while the Red Queen urges me to run faster and faster.
The funny thing is, I’ll accomplish what needs to be done next year as well … and wish I had more time to do the things I’d like to do.