Friday, June 21, 2024

What Comes Next?


Teaching Authors is celebrating its Fifteenth Anniversary! That’s amazing, on every level! I’ve been with this amazing group for (almost) ten years. My first post was October 6, 2014, in which I discussed writing my drafts out by hand.  By the way, I still write everything out in longhand.

As a team, the six of us share our unique perspective as writing teachers who are also working writers. But as I reflect on what being a part of this blog meant to my career, I admit that it has meant so much more to me on a personal level.

You’ll remember our backstory: we met while students at Vermont College of Fine Arts, earning our MFA. I graduated 24 years ago! Friendships come and go with the ebb of time. Each serves a purpose for however long they last. Friendships change, evolve, and sometimes they come to an end. That doesn’t mean they matter less; it just means change happens.

But in all that time, amid all the changes, the TAs have been a constant.

I am grateful to the TAs.  I thank each of the TAs for having invited me into your circle, for being there in these last years that have been defined by dispiriting rejections, overwhelming life challenges, and ensuing life changes. I have learned so much from each of you, about the craft, the writing life, and about the nature of belonging. I have been inspired by each of you. And I have been awed by each of you for your dedication and passion.  And, I am thoroughly in awe of Carmela, who has managed the blog since the beginning.

 I am reminded of May Yang’s poem, To All My Friends:

To all my friends who have been with me in weakness
when water falls rush down my two sides

To all my friends who have felt me in anguish
when this earthen back breaks between the crack of two blades

To all my friends who have held me in rage
when fire tears through swallows behind tight grins

I know you
I see you 
I hear you

(Read the full poem here.) 

 So what comes next?  I’m looking ahead, planning out what I need, when  I realized…

I’ve been teaching forty years. FORTY years.

I've taught at high school, community college, university and graduate schools.  I’ve taught English as a Second Language, British Lit, Children's Lit, Writing Tech Reports, Critical Theory, and Harry Potter (yes, Harry Potter and the hero’s journey!). Critical Research, Graduate Research Strategies, Graduate Reading Strategies. Business Writing. Creative Writing. Graduate Thesis Writing one, two and three. Graduate Literature Studies. The Business of Writing. Editing and Line-editing. Composition one and two, and three.

And, I earned all the relevant certifications to keep going. BUT I didn’t make tenure because I was too old, and didn’t – couldn’t -- create a strong sense of community (because I was too crazy busy trying to keep a roof over my head and paying for my own medical insurance.)

(By the way, adjuncts hold the system together. I could go on, but I'd get rather frothy about how the system treat adjuncts...)

And yet, it’s important to remember the bigger story. I have survived for forty years, on my own, keeping a cabin’s roof over my head, making my own way doing (mostly) what I want beyond what I need. May not always have been the wisest of choices, but they’ve always been my choices. No wonder I’ve grown up to be such a roguish – and unmuzzled --  loggerhead.

More than this. I have met some massively impressive and splendid people along the way.  It has made the journey worthwhile.

So, what am I going to do next? Whatever I want. The possibilities are endless. Maybe I’ll be a pirate. And I'll continue writing about my adventures in writing, right here. 

Mary Read, in a colorized engraving (date unknown). Getty Images / Hulton Archive


 Congratulations to Teaching Authors, and thank you for bringing me along!

--Bobbi Miller





Carmela Martino said...

Bobbi, it's been a pleasure having you on our TA team. On one hand, it hardly seems possible that you joined us nearly 10 years ago. On the other, it feels like you've been here since the beginning.
Thank you for sharing this amazing poem. And I raise a toast to your upcoming adventures, you pirate/writer!

Teresa Robeson said...

Congratulations on all your achievements, Bobbi...even when the institutions don't give you your due. You have certainly brightened all your friends' and students' world! xx

April Halprin Wayland said...

Bobbi ~ how I love your posts. They reach beyond, find the core, circle back and dig deeper.

I wish I could have taken a class with you!

Thank you for this wisdom:
Friendships come and go with the ebb of time. Each serves a purpose for however long they last. Friendships change, evolve, and sometimes they come to an end. That doesn’t mean they matter less; it just means change happens.

For so long I didn't understand this. I thought there was a law that you had to hold on to every friend you'd ever met.

Like Carmela, it feels like you've been with us forever. Lucky us.

loveandlove, me

Bobbi Miller said...

April, thank you so much for your kind words! O, this made my day. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the TAs! Bobbi

Bobbi Miller said...

Teresa: I always learn so much from you (especially as it relates to gardening and food, two of my favorite subjects!) You are one of my favorite people, and you brighten my every day! Bobbi