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.

Beta Reader: Open for Service

Do you need a beta reader? If you are, I am the one. If you are a newish writer, don’t try to go it alone. Words are magical such that when they ooze out of you and on to the page, they change and morph. I’m not merely speaking of the banal job of editing, but also of the process of fashioning your piece into the best it can be. In my own experience, I’ve tried to do it alone. Don’t do it. You need champions who will read, critique, and question.

Contact me. I’m waiting…

Random

I’ve been updating my fanfiction lately. I really had no intentions, but every now and then a reader will contact me with an appeal to update. Usually, I can’t resist a request and so I update. Then the writing fever hits me, the characters start bugging me with their dialogue noise and I’m off. I’ve written a couple of original pieces, but there aren’t any readers for those. 

Perhaps one day I’ll write a full story without expectation of it being read. The best, most effective way to write is to become addicted to the writing process, when it’s just you, in a room alone, with your laptop and the characters. It’s best to align oneself with the space between your imagination and the paper and not the reader. 

I began following this one young author’s blog today. I even bought her book. She reminded me of me when I self-published. Unlike me, she was wooed by a publisher.

NaNoWriMo Maybe

Hmm…I’ve been thinking. Perhaps I’ll do NaNoWriMo this year. Isn’t there a summer camp edition? A work colleague and I were talking about that today in the breakroom. She brought it up, inquiring if I’ve ever done it.

“No…I signed up, but never did it,” I said, “We should sign up together for encouragement and competition.” Then I offered some funny quip about us lifting each other up.

She doesn’t know I’ve self-published a book, but I’ve told her about my other writing, namely fanfiction. I wasn’t serious about us going at it together. I’m tired of being a perpetual champion or convener of groups.

I’ve begun some brainstorming. Oh, I have a long way to go.