To Not Working a Day in My Life

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. –Confucius

 

How do you combine a love of teaching, a penchant for writing, and a skill for formatting documents into highly stylized arrangements of spaces, footnotes, and punctuation? I am trying to figure it out.

I am a tutor, an independent ESL instructor, and a copyeditor. Writing is the only activity that does not generate revenue. After being a classroom teacher for almost a decade, I began tutoring full-time both in-person and online. I started copyediting, mostly dissertations, before I left classroom teaching.

This work is extremely rewarding. Working one-on-one provides the opportunity for me to get to know my clients and their unique learning needs. It is truly a journey, especially with my clients in kindergarten through 1st grade who often greet me with pouts. They would rather play than work on skills that cause them to struggle. During those first couple of sessions, I am a detective trying to figure out a way in. As if by magic–really perseverance–they come to enjoy our sessions and that is when the progress begins.

My adult clients are interesting people. Many of my ESL clients have come to America due to a family member’s job relocation, leaving close family and friends. One of my clients has been in the states for decades and is a widely respected dancer in her community. In the dance school she founded, she is the guru to the students who attend her school. I was honored to see the recent dance production by her students. It was heartening to see her life’s work on display.

Because most of my copyediting clients are not local to me, I never get to meet them face-to-face. Reading their research gives me a window into their motivations and the research interests they have invested a great deal of time studying.

I feel particularly fortunate to have this space and time, this flexibility. I hope to use it to devote more time to write during those days and weeks that are not filled with appointments. This work is not work in the sense of something you dread facing on Mondays. It is that work that gives me the opportunity to be of use as illustrated in Marge Piercy’s poem so named.

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