Persistence

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This little guy showed up outside my office window yesterday morning. Perfect timing for Mother Nature to remind me that persistence is the key to achieving your goals.

You see, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having a somewhat hard to shake case of the blues, lately. Last week was spring break for my school district. A week I look forward to for the simple fact that eight hours of my day can be spent on writing. I look forward to days off for precisely this purpose. I had a list of accomplishments I’d hoped to achieve by the waning hours of Sunday evening. Unfortunately, life had other plans, and I have very few check marks on my To-Do list.

I’ve been fighting some weird illness for over a week now. Nothing major, mind you. Just cough, fatigue, random bouts of light-headedness… You get the picture. It started the Thursday before break and in spite of the antibiotic I’ve been on ever since, I’m still not my normal productive self. And the fact is, it’s wearing on me.

An entire week I could have spent polishing my manuscript, finalizing plot lines, and beefing up characters and conflict was instead spent in a ridiculous state of frustration because my body couldn’t keep up with the whims of my mind. It’s been a fruitless week.

But as I reflect on the past week, and watch my wood-pecking friend as he drills mercilessly through hardened bark to get whatever juicy morsel is hiding inside, I’m reminded of something important. Those extra blessed days of no school tossed in here and there are not what will make or break my future writing career. It is how I handle myself around that day job that makes the difference. My mystery illness will eventually dissipate and life will again revolve around school day schedules, homework, lesson planning, and trips to my daughter’s riding lesson barn. And I’ll find a way to make it work.

On Monday, I will trek back to school. I will do my best to leap feet first into my school time routine. My alarm will ring at 3:00 AM and I will slog downstairs to my coffee and computer. I will plunk out as much coherent text as I possible in those early morning hours of solitude. (I don’t even think my feathered friend gets a start that early.)

Perhaps that was what I was missing over the course of the past week. That element of satisfaction that comes from those early mornings spent at my computer. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes each morning, I know that what I’m doing is worth it. I know that someday not long from now I will be thankful for the ability to force my eyelids open at such an hour. I will be thankful for the persistence it takes to do that every morning. And I won’t beat myself up for those random days off that end fruitlessly.

I’ll just focus ahead and keep writing.

What do you do to shake off the blues?

 

A Gentle Reminder

Teachers work hard.

No matter how you feel about the profession or those in it, one thing is for certain. Good teachers put in many hours and go above and beyond to make the lives of their students more memorable. None of us went into the profession hoping to satisfy our state department of education (although it has become a necessary evil). We chose this profession for one reason, and one reason only… to enrich the lives of students.

The one downfall to this, however, is that we rarely get to see the impact we’ve had on their lives. Students get older, move on to the next grade, until eventually, we are but a speck in their memory. Hopefully, a speck they remember fondly, but still… you get the point.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of those rare moments of gratification. I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of a student’s novel.

“The last person I would like to thank is Mrs. Anthony. She brought NaNoWriMo to [our] school.”

-Joshua, 4th Grade Student at London Elementary School

It’s nothing more than a blurb, but I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy that kind of thing makes me feel. That one line makes all the extra effort worthwhile. And since today I’ll be opening up sign ups at our school for Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it seems my young friend had perfect timing.

Thanks, Joshua, for proving that what we do makes a difference. You rock, my friend! And remember…

A_Mary

Spring Renewal

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Starting over – it’s not easy, but the season of Spring exudes it. Flowers poke their heads above the warming earth and trees begin to bud and leaf. What better season, then, to make a metamorphosis of my own?

I will graduate from Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program on June 4th. It’s been a long journey that has spanned four countries and two continents. It has been the impetus for new friendships with wonderful, imaginative people, and an excuse to travel to places I’d never under normal circumstances get to go. And although it proved arduous at times, and will likely bankrupt me as I spend the rest of my days paying back all those student loans, it is a decision I’d make all over again.

A year ago, in the midst of writing my extended critical essay, I was ready to be done. I was tired of the grind that five packets a semester entailed. Tired of critiquing books by other authors when all I wanted to do was write my own. But now that the time has arrived, now that I’ve spent the last several months immersed in my own fiction, spit shining my creative thesis, I’m having a hard time letting go.

I can’t help but ask the question, “What happens now?”

Thanks to the poignant words of my mentor in our final conference, I think I can begin to answer that question.

This is not the end. This is just the beginning.

This is the time to plan, the time to give voice and merit to the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s time to stop calling this vision I have a dream, and begin calling it what it is…a professional goal. One that I’ve spent the last four years dedicated to achieving, and one that has become even more attainable by earning this degree.

This is my spring renewal… my metamorphosis from dreamer to achiever. My chance to put what I’ve learned into action, not for the purposes of the next packet, but for myself. Each word, sentence, and scene that I write will bring me one step closer to the goals I’ve set for myself. This spring, it’s time to bloom.

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