I took a year out to get on with some teaching in 2017. I’d previously made a transition from self-employment in a jewellery business and decided a change of life was needed. Last year I just shut up and got on with some things I’d been meaning to do for a few years.
Firstly, I took a teaching contract, picked up a CELTA qualification, and pushed on with picking up a PGCE qualification … I have no idea why I suddenly did this? I also finished a novel properly. Not a rough draft or a lot of pages written, but an actual full-blown story. I then set about editing it, using all the expertise I’d somehow presumed I’d imbibed along my learning life. That was a learning curve once I went teaching, and a bit of a wake-up call. Suddenly I was having to teach what I thought I knew. Initially, I thought a quick refresher would sort it all out for me. I mean, how hard can it be? Right?
I’d written the Three Dead Dogs short story collection in a blitz of a year in 2015. I wrote without caring about editing and believed it was a simple matter of coming back later to it. The stories were coming and it was better to let them flow. I’m so glad I did that now, but in some ways, I also regret that I put them up on kindle prematurely. In other ways, I’m not. It’s forced me to get on with things and hone
some of my writing skills.
I realise now that I took an overlong break by not doing anything for twenty years!
I’ve written for most of 2017, but most of it has been re-writing or editing in one fashion or another. There have also been a stupid number of essays about things I don’t really want to give a fiddler’s about. In some ways, it’s like being back at Uni listening to lecturers ramble on about Barthes or Eagleton! Two people of whom I’ve since never heard! Now, I appear to be going through the same thing but the names have changed and I’m reading about Piaget, or Bloom, or Maslov and all of them seem to have produced dense wordy texts about the simple process of learning. For what you might take forward as a teacher, a brief two-line synopsis could cover each of them.
The teaching environment is somewhat chaotic. The process itself is enjoyable, and working your way through the subject matter to help clarify it for others is pleasurable when you witness that penny drop. The admin is daft though. It’s like they’ve fired every administrator who might have assisted the teaching role, and anybody else who doesn’t teach, and the teachers now have to queue at photo-copying machines waiting for resources to print. Ten teachers waiting an hour costs in unproductive time, and it would pay for an administrator to take care of these tasks and allow teachers more time to organise the teaching. Queueing at machines is not dissimilar to any other queue – leave and you go to the back. People spend a lot of time standing around waiting their turn. They don’t want to, but what would any sensible person do?
The adage about those who can’t do teach may have an upside. Those who teach ultimately can do. There’s nothing like teaching to let you know what you can and can’t do. When you know you can teach it properly, you know you can do it!
For that reason, I’m seeing my year off the grid as a productive year. My writing is back to where it was before I switched off. Now I’m older, less inclined to be off my trolley, and more inclined to pursue thoughts and ideas until I’ve finished with them.
2018 has kicked off nicely and I’ve managed to upload updated versions of the four books on Amazon. I next have to find my way back into understanding the promotional rigmarole that goes with all of that, and I’m now seriously looking for an agent for By Hook or by Crooke, which I’ve decided might just be a working title after all.
Hello world once more.