I am freaking myself out. When I was in elementary school, I decided to be a teacher—to teach History. That was the plan all the way into college, when I discovered that English Literature was significantly more compelling. My junior year I took this fiction/poetry team-teaching class. We had a fiction writer for the first half—a rugged guy who loved Hemingway, and for the poetry half—an earnest guy who wrote long, lush narratives. Literature stood on its head. I remember that. I remember sitting in class thinking: I can do more than analyze; I can create. And everything else fell away.
I’d written stories and poems and articles from the time I was a child, but something about that class legitimized what I’d been doing. Made it feel less a hobby, and more a profession. I still finished with a B.A. in English, but I took more writing courses, and decided to get an M.F.A.
The goal, naturally, was still to teach, but now I’d teach English and Creative Writing courses. My first year of graduate school, I taught English to advanced-placement seniors at North Central High School, and Composition to inmates at Airway Heights Correctional Facility. It was amazing. I had a buzz from it. The thrill of interacting with students, of being on the other side of language, of getting to be excited about the possibilities of diction and images and vehicle and syntax with groups of people who were suspicious of words and hated writing.
But I realized something else too. I’d never have a life if I taught. I’d be consumed with the passion of it. I’d pour everything into it, and be empty myself. I knew I’d never write if I taught.
When I graduated, I took a job as a technical writer. Later, I worked in an independent bookstore—closer to the life of an artist—impoverished and meaningful. By this time, I had a child and a book, and understood that passion requires balance, and that balance can be learned. I didn’t have to burn out like a flare. And this desire to teach climbed through me again.
I’m supposed to be working on my Curriculum Vitae for a teaching position at one of the local colleges, but I can’t make myself do it. I have the requisite documentation and my resume, and my desire, but I cannot get my confidence to cooperate. Why is this? Because I want it so badly, and the wanting has been sustaining me? Maybe. I don’t think there’s one clear answer here. But I do think that I’m pregnant with possibility, and there is power in pregnancy. Labor is inevitable, but can be forestalled, for a time.