From a letter Sylvia Plath wrote to her brother:
and I am to sacrifice my energy, writing and versatile intellectual life for grubbing over 66 Hawthorne papers a week and trying to be articulate in front of a rough class of spoiled bitches…
(qtd in Stevenson).
Any artist knows exactly how Plath feels, especially if she is a beginning teacher. The first three to five years are the worst, especially in high school teaching.
When I began teaching English composition at the university level, it took five semesters before I stopped feeling nervous before each class, and even still the classroom gives me anxiety dreams. But teach I must if I want to earn at least some money!
I went into teaching after receiving a Master’s in Spanish with the hopes of writing poetry and short stories in the afternoons, but obviously that didn’t happen. I was too busy grading and planning to even think about any kind of writing besides in my journal.
And I did not have Plath’s genius nor her frenetic, passionate drive to succeed. I settled into conformity and set my sights on having babies. The down side is that it took me almost 15 years to get back to writing. But here I am, my children in college, and I’m shaping up a manuscript of poems.
Sketch of Benidorm, Spain by Sylvia Plath, where Plath honeymooned with Ted Hughes. Photographed from illustrations in Bitter Fame by Anne Stevenson.
One thought on “What Say You In June, Teachers?”
I think giving birth to your manuscript of poems will be (blissfully, blessedly) informed by your being not ONLY an Artist, but a Mother (of human children), too! Continued Success; I can’t wait to read You! 😀