Children have returned to classrooms all around the country. I am a member of one of the oldest professions. I have been a teacher for some thirty odd years. People don’t realize how physically demanding the job is. The first few weeks are always the worst. I was surprised when a young twenty-something told us she went to bed as soon as she got home and slept through the night. I thought this bone weary exhaustion was something only the grizzled veteran teachers dealt with.
I drag home. Reading is out of the question. Even looking at our Gem State Writers blog takes too much energy. I try to catch up during the weekends. Talking in some cases, is out of the question because it requires stringing words together, which make sense. I plop in front of the television. I can process the images swirling on the screen. The lights are mesmerizing and I’m not required a response of any kind.
It’s October. I am slowly building my stamina, but the least little thing can send me spinning. Under normal circumstances, I come home, retreat to my bedroom for some alone time, and then I’m ready to check my home e-mail, correct papers, and tackle whatever items I must get done.
My mother is here for a visit. When I arrive home we need some girl time. We eat dinner and watch television together, during which she chats, and I listen. We no longer have conversations. My mother wants to talk. She’s been alone and needs to share her thoughts. This works for me since I’m too tired for a lengthy dialogue. Besides, you learn a lot when you listen. This is my chance to learn more about my mother.
I just discovered that she didn’t have her own bedroom until she was fourteen. Up until that time, she’d slept in a roll-away bed in the kitchen, or on the sofa. So having her own room was an important milestone in her life. Give that experience to one of your characters. What scenes can you create?
I have learned that sometimes her stories make me think and spark the creative process.
One evening Mom talked about an abusive man who left his wife and family several years ago, and hasn’t been heard from since. Despite exhaustion, the writer within was waiting and a story begin to unfurl. I wondered what if his wife killed him. Or maybe it was one of the children? Or what about the wife’s mother? Yeah, I went to the dark side. People can disappear. His family didn’t care where he’d gone. His absence wasn’t missed. He didn’t have any close friends. Think about how easy it would be to make him simply go away.
Sometimes her stories are jumbled and I can’t make sense of them.
Despite my dazed state, I can still create. For the rest of the week, listen to conversations. See what stories pop into your head.