Workload at UVU is 4/4, plus committee work, and I take four different preps to avoid teaching two sections of freshman comp, so August to April is always an exercise in perpetual dog paddling to keep from drowning. Read the textbook assignments I've given my students, read the assignments my students have written, consult individually with students while maintaining diplomacy and tact, repeat ad infinitum. I do have a home life, so the tiny snatches of creative time are few and far between.
May and June I teach summer courses, which are not as stressful, but are still time-consuming. It's only when I don't teach that I can really think about my own creative work.
I don't want to write reviews any more. Lots of people post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon--my contributions there would be minimal and redundant. I used to review for newpages.com and the Association of Mormon Letters, but the selections from AML don't always match my interests. I read all the time--to learn how to write, or to learn something about a specific subject. Give me space to read and I always come up with something I want to write.
But reviews have lost their magic. Personal journal work is--personal. And that Blake/Yeats novel has stalled. So...I'm waiting for messengers.
Adam says, in the Mormon temple ceremony, when Satan points out that there are people everywhere waiting to tell him what to believe, that he is "waiting for messengers..." We don't know how much time passes before the messengers arrive the first time, and they don't even identify themselves at that point. They go away, saying they'll come back, and Adam and Eve wait. I suspect they're not always patient, but that doesn't change anything. Eventually the messengers come again, in their own good time. This time they say their names, drive Satan away, and present Adam with information to unlock the whole universe. "How shall I know you are true messengers?" he asks. They assure him with a sign, and he and Eve gather around to hear what they have to say.
I've been asking too. Not for a sign, but for messengers, or at least for some guiding messages. I'm getting older. Some aspects of my life are falling away, aspects that don't matter any more, or that don't ring true. (Of course this happens cyclically in everyone's life. It's happened before to me, in my twenties, in my forties. I find it interesting that it's happening again, when I'm sixty-four.) What should come in their stead? If I'm not going to write that Blake-Yeats novel...if I'm going to retire pretty soon...if my grandchildren need their grandparents in particular ways as they, too, become older...what now?
As usual in my life, answers appear in pieces, a fragment at a time. Since the summer term has ended and family needs have subsided, there have been whispers. What I love is that they make so much sense I want to strike my palm to my forehead and gasp, "I knew that!"
But I didn't. I just feel blessed to have an inkling about it now.
The most important things in my life (taking for granted family and work, so fundamental they're off the "importance" scale) are health-related and book-related. Walking, working out, keeping fit and trim, eating lightly and well. Reading, finding new books, prioritizing, not wasting my time with poorly-crafted or uninteresting writing.
The quiet messengers in my head remind me that because these are important, taking up most of my mental, emotional, and physical time, I can, and should, write them.
No, not reviews, and not how-to's. But essays about my life in these things. Or stories. Either one. Fiction or creative nonfiction. Both.
I'm making lists of titles. I'm sitting with a notebook, day and night. I'm reading a lot of novels and nonfiction, just to enjoy the sentences. I'm eating good food, lightly. More about all of this to come. Because I'm still waiting for the details, and there's no particular hurry. That's how messengers work.