Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Okay, let's call a spade a spade

Well, boys and girls, it's official. I have writer's block. Yup, the bad kind. Not the if-I-just-do-a-few-writing-exercises-everything-will-be-fine kind. I am a bit of a mess lately, as was evidenced when last night, the discussion of the latest idea I had sent me into a fit of tears and left me angry with my boyfriend for reasons that are not his fault.

Why is all this happening? Well, the sad fact of the matter is, this is happening because of my job. I haven't talked about this online, because this is a public blog, and I was concerned that any initial reaction on my part to it could create further problems for me at work. But the dust seems to have settled a bit, so I feel okay about writing.

Some parents of my students went poking around on my website and seemed to get a little worried about the mention of Satanism in my bio, the pentagram on the front of Breathless, and the fact that like the third word of the manuscript is crotch. They called the school board. My principal discussed it with me and we decided the best course of action was to not discuss the website with students, refer them to the school website instead of mine, and I made a decision that while students can read outside books for extra credit, they could not read mine, because that would be unethical.

The thing about teaching is that it's a delicate balance. I've always tried to keep my personal life as separate from teaching as possible. After all, I've always been intensely worried about being able to control a classroom if they knew I drank an occasional beer in bar in town on the weekends. They'd never listen to me again!!

And now, with students coming up to me in the hallways and saying things like, "So I hear you're a Satanist," I'm beginning to feel like that thin line that is keeping everyone in line is about to snap. I hate it.

On the one hand, I don't want to not write what I write. But every time I have an idea, I keep thinking, "I can't post that on the internet. If they read that, they might think this about me."

What I need to do is somehow reconcile myself with my job. After all, writing is my hobby. It doesn't pay the bills. I need to continue teaching. It's a good job, and on most days I like it. But I've got to figure out how to be an effective teacher and keep writing. I can't be dodging questions like, "Do you think underage drinking is okay?" on a daily basis.

Anyway, until the paranoia fades, I can't promise I'll have anything new in the spring. I will be serializing Mischief in January. (with big warning signs saying that the book is intended for people 18 and older.)

As a final note, if you are a parent of one of my students and you're reading this blog, please believe that there is no part of me that in any way ever has wanted to damage your child. I only want my students to succeed. And I want them to learn to think. I think the only way they can do this is by being exposed to lots and lots of different ideas. Your child really can't be hurt by an idea. Or some words on a page. I swear. The actions your children take will be their own responsibility. And no book or website or teacher will ever force them to do something wrong. But the only way they're going to be able to determine right from wrong is if we teach them to think for themselves.


  1. WOW I really dont think ur books r that bad! I see and hear things on t.v. that r a lot more unsuitable for kids then the word crotch! I dont understand how ur students would think that because u have Satanists in ur book that u r one to. Dont they know it is just a book, just a figment of ur imagination?? I know some writers like to put their own life experence in their books, but that doesnt mean that the whole book is about the author.

    The whole thing about ur writers block... Im sorry about that, that must really suck! All I can say is take a mini vacation this weekend. Go do something with ur boyfriend and just relax. Then come back and see if u cant break that writers block of urs!! I hope I could help!! :)

  2. Oh wow, that must be really upsetting for you.

    I hope everything works out nicely. :)

  3. I am so sorry to hear about this. In library school, we are taught to be defenders of intellectual freedom for folks of all ages. And we are supported in that imperative from the local to the national level. (Maybe you'd like to make a career change? :) I, too, thought about becoming a teacher and am so happy I ended up choosing libraries!) Kids need access to ideas! Reading teaches us not only about the world we live in, but about empathy - putting ourselves in someone else's shoes, and that will only make us more thoughtful, compassionate human beings.

    - Emily D.


  5. Thanks Cristina, that's a neat little site.

    And thanks to everyone for your kind words. :)

  6. If you haven't read the "Jessica Darling" ya series, I think that you should check it out.

  7. Mmm...okay. I've got it. Think I can squeeze Sloppy Firsts into my somehow hugely crowded reading schedule. :)

  8. Wow!! Sloppy Firsts is done. I just devoured that thing. Thanks so much for the recommendation.