A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 50K

NaNoWriMo T-27 (aka Day 3) The words came earlier today and more freely but of course, that’s because I went way off-topic. The jest was: freewrite three times per day, 30 days in a row, and see what happens. So how could anything be off-topic, really? I’d intended to read a teaching journal entry, then write. A simple enough plan gone miserably awry.

This morning, for instance, I got in a snit over online students’ learned helplessness, and instead of responding to the Parker Palmer quote on inwardness, which happens to be the talking point to open our department retreat this Friday, I began with a rant that led to a bigger rant which, on second or 50-zillionth thought, is precisely what I wanted to write about; the perils and pitfalls of teaching and learning, and how they dance side by side on the head of the same pin all the time. Was that correctly punctuated? Where’s Jimmy Baldwin (R.I.P., Beloved) when you need him.

Well, I’m 2,070 words closer to goal than I was three days ago but still a far cry from the 4,980 words that I intended to have by now. I’m still waiting for the deluge. It could happen, and not just to Cinda Freakin Rella – to paraphrase Kit DeLuca. It could happen that at some point, in the not too distant future, while simply showing up for a brain dump, slavishly each day, as intended, the Muse could appear and begin to breathe into this project and wrest it entirely from my hands, mind or heart or wherever it seems to be trapped. Till then, I will endeavor to stand in the tragic gap, taking comfort in Palmer’s wisdom, served up in Courage to Teach:

If you are a teacher who never has bad days, or who has them but does not care, this book is not for you.  This book is for teachers who have good days and bad, and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves.  It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life.(1)

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