Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Writing Fridays ROCK!

Look what I got in the mail! The latest copy of my favorite journal...

My favorite journal...
 And look what's inside, RIGHT THERE in the table of contents:

Hey, that's MY name!

Yup, that's my work. Written by me. Researched by me. Revised by me. Sent to people who gave me awesome feedback. Revised again by me. Rethought by me. Revised some more by me. Agonized over by me. It was a long and arduous process, but I am so excited to have a published article in my favorite journal, among writers and scholars whose work I admire. I couldn't be more pleased.

And I have to put in a plug here for Writing Fridays because y'all: THEY WORK.

A couple years ago, I manipulated my class schedule so that instead of teaching five days a week, I started teaching four days a week and working at home on writing projects on Fridays. 

This was not a thing I was supposed to do. I invented a time slot in the class schedule that didn't exist so that I could make my MWF classes MW classes instead (for longer time slots). I was kind of breaking the rules, and going against what I'd been told when I was hired (that I needed to be on campus five days a week). I definitely felt like a few people on campus disapproved, particularly when I let people know I would not be available on Fridays for meetings, either. 

I have a really hard time doing things that people--especially peers and mentors--disapprove of. (Understatement Alert!) But in order to be productive--to do the hard work of thinking, writing, revising--I needed a big block of quiet time, and a place where I could dive in and go deep. I still do, actually, and post my Writing Friday updates on FB as part of keeping myself accountable for putting in the time and effort during the school year, when I'm exhausted and overscheduled and everything is urgent and needs my attention. Writing Friday is a way of making space in that whirling vortex of crazy to listen for my own voice.

Revising with tea in a most excellent mug.

Of course, it isn't all about me. Even as I find the space to work in quiet, I am part of a network of people whose talent and generosity makes my work possible. I need to take a moment here to say:

-- thank you to Heid E. Erdrich, whose poetry is so compelling that I wanted to write about it, to find a way to express why I think it's so important. (Go read her work, y'all, and don't forget to click on the links for the video poems.)
-- thank you to SAIL editor Chad Allen, plus the anonymous readers who read my submission and who challenged me to do some revisions that made the resulting work so much stronger.
-- thank you to Nancy Comorau, who is my writing buddy and is always encouraging and full of smart ideas, no matter how messy my drafts are.
-- thank you to Amber Nabers, a student whose paper helped to spark mine; teaching really does lead to learning when you have thoughtful, engaged students like Amber.
-- thank you to Dee Peterson, who shared her resources about museum history with me.
-- thank you to the clan mothers and brothers of the Native American Literature Symposium, where in March 2012 I presented the germ of the idea that led to this article. 

I will always be grateful that these beautiful people, most of whom I count as friends now, encouraged me and challenged me and welcomed me and held my feet to the fire. They helped me find my voice again after a long silence, and I can never fully express my gratitude for that. They helped me find the courage to sing again. I think they kind of saved my life a little bit. Yes, I'm sure of it.

May you find something that helps you sing!


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