I began my second novel—the one I’m currently setting out to revise—at the end of the summer in 2006, the same time that I started teaching at Flint Hill School. I finished the first draft of my novel before winter break last year and the second draft over Spring Break at the end of March.
I tell you, if nothing else happens with my book, if it nobody wants to publish it, I’m still very proud that I was able to teach full-time and complete a novel in three years. One of my biggest concerns with returning to teaching was that I wouldn’t have time to write, that I would always find an excuse to avoid confronting my insecurities and fail to get the story I wanted to tell on the page. I even mentioned this several times during my interviewing process for the job.
Looking back now, I think one of the reasons I was able to do this was because my teaching and my writing have an ongoing dialogue with one another. Yesterday, I was reading Looking at Movies (which, by the way, is a great introductory film textbook) for my “Thrillers: Page to Screen” course and learning about the importance of establishing shots in setting the scene and the visual guidelines for a particular film. This led me to think about my novel and ask the question: have I created a sort of “establishing shot” for my novel? Of course, a novel works very differently than film, but it’s an important question to ask.
Over the past few years, I’ve been able to make useful connections like this between the material I’m teaching and the writing that I’m doing. I’ve also learned a lot about how to improve my teaching through my writing, but that’s for another blog.