What I’m Not Doing

To continue my #nerdlution, I thought I’d try participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, over at Two Writing Teachers.  I’m not sure if I followed the directions, but it was fun to write!


I’m sitting in my classroom, listening to Christmas music on Spotify.  I’m supposed to be finishing a paper for grad school right now.  It’s more than just a paper; it’s a chapter of my dissertation.  Not the first chapter.  Maybe not even a chapter that makes it into the final thing.  But a chapter.

The problem is that I’ve reached a writing rut.  I know what I want to say, and I even know how to say it, but I need to read some more “stuff” before I can be sure I’m right.  I’m working with a lot of feminist literary criticism, which is new and scary for me, and my brain is fried.  So instead of working on my paper, I:

  • graded quizzes for my AP class
  • made a grocery list
  • found a pattern to crochet an afghan for my grandmother for Christmas
  • wrote lesson plans for tomorrow’s after school program
  • wrote a letter of recommendation for a friend who’s applying to law school
  • filled out a timesheet for my after school program
  • created a permission slip for an in-school field trip
  • read lots of other people’s blogs
  • created a Spotify playlist of Christmas music


The lights in my classroom are on a motion sensor timer. If the sensor doesn’t detect any movement for thirty minutes, the lights will go out.  When this happens my windowless classroom (yes, windowless classroom) becomes pitch black.  Usually I leave the lamp on my desk on when I’m working after school to ensure this doesn’t happen.  But I forgot today and for a second my room was plunged into total darkness.  Usually I hate the dark.  A city girl originally, I’m always convinced that something nefarious is lurking for me there.  But today, when my overhead light went off, I didn’t immediately reach for my lamp.  I sat for a minute, completely burdened by the work that I had ahead.  Instead of reaching for the lamp, I hit the button on my phone, temporarily lighting up a small square on my desk.  I scrolled through my phone, sitting in the inky dark, at my uncomfortable desk.  I looked at my pictures (do you do this when you’re bored?  Why do I do this when I’m bored?), and I found a screenshot of something Laurie Halse Anderson posted on her Tumblr, and which Gae Polisner posted on the Teachers Write! facebook page:

“One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature.  Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly.  They have a point where they go dormant.  And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again.”

I turned the lamp on, put my phone down, and immediately opened wordpress.

So instead of trying to revolutionize feminist critical theory this evening, I’m going to clean up the passive voice in my paper, clarify a few pronouns, and call it a day.  I’ve come a long way from the beginning of the semester, and I need to take some dormant time.

Since I began writing this post, the light went out again.  But it’s OK, I can see now.



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3 responses to “What I’m Not Doing

  1. Dormant time is never wasted time. Your dormant time produced this post, which was so atmospheric and heart felt. Whew, you have a lot on your shoulders. So, the time you need to nourish your spirit…and prepare for the blossoming!

  2. I could imagine how dark it got…and I like the thoughts that came from it. Well-written! Great quote, too.

  3. I love the idea of going dormant in writing. Maybe that is why I’ve struggled each week to find the right slice. Hmmmm. . . Something for me to ponder.

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