I’ve always been a firm advocate of all things autumnal: counting down to the pumpkin spice latte, burning the seasonally scented candle, trying to make average warm weather into sweater-weather and ending up a literal hot mess, and of course the start of a new academic year. As a college student, I always got so excited about planning a new class schedule, and then as a teacher I loved decorating the room with faux fall foliage. (And a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils of You’ve Got Mail fame) Fall as a teacher involves new ideas, resolutions, and expectations. The names you saw as you looked over the roster become tangible faces who eventually imprint themselves on your heart after many months in the trenches of the triumphs and challenges that the school year brings. I like to think fall brings a fresher start than the calendar year, which maybe seems glam and sparkling on December 31, but then immediately becomes slushy, gross, road-salted January.
This autumn has been the start of a brand new chapter for me. After leaving the school where I worked full time for four years, I returned from Oxford to many new changes. Last year, I spent so much time grappling with a change in thought process. I had been for many years a teacher who writes, but I realized that I wanted to be a writer who teaches. There’s a nuanced difference there, but significant. It means sometimes waking up at 5 AM to work on a novel. Or to schedule an evening off at a local coffee shop to write queries. However, there are some variables full-time teachers/coaches/advisers/club sponsors/ all of the above/ can’t control. After a season of 16-hour days, a dining room table full of papers at 2 or 3 am, and actually working myself into the emergency room once or twice, I started to consider what the next season should look like. I was accepted into an MFA program for Creative Writing, and I had fought to carve time to write the first half of my novel. I tried to figure out how to weave all the elements of teaching, and pursuing concurrent master’s degrees (M.A. in the summer/M.F.A in the academic year) and, on top of that, write. After four years at one school, to whom I am forever indebted for taking a chance on a rookie teacher, I symbolically “graduated” with that class of seniors, a group who became so special to me and continue to be an inspiration. In a wonderfully poetic moment, I was helping out at the seniors’ graduation rehearsal and happened to check my phone, when I received an email saying that one of the articles I had sent out many months ago had been picked up for publication.
Now autumn is here. After our house disbanded, I moved about an hour north. While I had to defer the MFA classes for this fall, I picked up some part time classes at a wonderful private school nearby, so my life is not completely devoid of the academic, but my schedule is still freed to write. My biggest project at the moment is editing my novel, and I’m working on some other smaller projects. I’m coaching middle school soccer, as well, which is also a little bit poetic, since my first novel that I wrote when I was 15, was about middle school soccer players.
On the publishing front, I’m very excited to have just had an article appear in the September/October issue of Bethesda Magazine. So raise your pumpkin spices, chai lattes and apple ciders to a brand new Autumn!