Monday, May 24, 2010

Impatience for Time

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

My last post only told of my subbing tales until Wednesday. After the excitement of the conference and the two guest posts, life returned to my version of normal. I’ve noticed that since the regular gatekeeper is out, my sub calls come later and later. (Do the sub gatekeepers like to sleep in?) On Thursday morning, I had already showered and (hopefully) put on casual clothes. Then. The. Phone. Rang. For P.E. Might as well keep on those casual clothes and add sneakers.

The job was at the school with the big pep rally from several weeks ago, where I spend a lot of time in the middle school. Turns out his pep rally paid off because the boys and girls’ teams won championships. There was an article written in the “Cambridge Chronicle”, which got the attention of someone from Dunkin’ Donuts. So Saturday and tonight the teacher and his teams get to attend the Celtics and the Boston Garden. Soooo jealous.

After the 2nd/3rd-grade class did stations, I watched two fourth and fifth-grade classes play prison dodge ball. Then I left for the other school. When I entered the gym, a few three-year-old Montessori students ran over to embrace my waist. Too cute.

It turned out the gym teachers had a meeting that afternoon, so I’d be working with the building sub. She’d been there since March, so I figured she’d take over. I WAS WRONG. She was intimidated by gym, so I ran the three afternoon 1st/2nd-grade classes. Heck, it was my third time subbing gym that week, so I’ve become an expert.

Friday morning, I received another late call to sub (drum roll please) GYM! This time, it was at the high school. I’d only subbed P.E. there once before and it was for swimming, so I just had to make sure students didn’t sneak out (or drown) while the swim coaches ran the classes.

When I reached the office, I was told the teacher had a light day with just two classes. There were no plans left for the secretary or in the mailbox. I was told to show up for homeroom second period to find out where my “Avid” class was located and what I’d be doing. ????? Until then, I got coffee, went to the teacher’s resource center, and applied for newly popped up jobs in a thirty-minute driving vicinity.

I hung out at homeroom, and then waited for the other teacher. It was the same classroom I’d helped out in a week or two ago as a Special Ed. teacher for Math. Luckily, the other teacher actually ran the classes (meaning, knew how to solve math equations). When the Math teacher arrived, she said the gym teacher was on a field trip with her Avid class, so I had the period off. This meant I had no class until fourth period. Back to the teacher’s room I went to write a post.

At some point, I went into the teacher’s dining area to eat lunch. There, I saw another sub I’ve seen from time to time. I made some polite conversation:

“Have you been getting slammed with a lot of jobs too?”

“No, I’ve only worked once or twice last week and this week.”

“Really? Are you down to teach a lot of different classes?”

“Yes, I’m down for everything.”

“Even gym? I’ve been teaching a lot of gym.”

“Yes, I’m down for gym.”

“How long have you been subbing?”

“Ten years.”


(If anyone has a theory why this is the case, feel free to insert it in the comments section below.)

All I want is to sleep in, and after everyone has left the house, WRITE. I have a million-and-one ideas crowding my head, begging to be written down. There are three or four posts ideas waiting. Aubrie sent me the final The Disappearances edits, and I want to get them done and find another beta reader for more feedback. My new manuscript Naked Eye isn’t happy I’m waiting until I return from the trip to write in earnest. I keep ignoring the words that pop in my head to propel the story.

Then there are the agents and editors I can submit to after the conference. I have some work to do on my Aura and The Disappearances queries. At this point, I’m afraid that will have to wait until the return as well.

Something is different. The winds have change have blown in my direction, and I feel if I had time I could take advantage of this momentum. I’ve heard other writers who finally get published say they’ve known something was different when they submitted manuscript x, and then they got offers. Not to be dramatic, but not only has my writing improved, but my understanding of the whole manuscript is at another level. I hope my persistence will pay off.

All I want to do is press on. But I’m stalled for the time being.

The end of the year can’t come soon enough.


  1. I guess the answer is that all the teachers are requesting you!
    Money is good but I hope you aren't called at least one day this week so you can get some writing down...and hey, at least next Monday is guaranteed off, right?!
    When does your school system break for summer?

  2. I know I've got a few schools that love me since I'll switch classes and take the bad ones, and I don't put up with the kid's crap. Maybe that's part of it.

  3. I would say they request you especially. I hope you get some time soon to concentrate on your writing and I am wishing the winds of change to hurry up for you so you can do what you clearly love.

  4. Wow I guess the only thing I can say is that you must be loved and at the top of their lists!!! I don't know how subbing works but it looks like you have it down pact!

  5. Oh wow - do grab those pesky winds that are blowing in your favour and go with the flow!

    Good luck!! And fingers crossed that the conference and your persistence will pay off. And they will.

    You must be super duper fit by now teaching all these gym classes! The 3 year old classes sounded so sweet! Three seems like such a young age to be in a class or am I just being really naive? Awww they sound adorable!

    Take care and GOOD LUCK!!


  6. aLmYbNeNr, it must be my gym prowess. I shouldn't complain because not only is Monday a holiday, but I'm off all next week for a big trip. We're done the third week in June, I think.

    Chris, the other dude has been in the system for 10 years, so surely he's good. And he said he taught in Africa for ten years before that. Hmmm.

    Sounds like you're one of the good subs.

    Brigid, it looks like I'm off today, so after I spend time preparing for the trip, I'm going to write. First I need to find if the hotels have adapters so I can use my flat iron and other important items.

  7. Jen, I wish I knew how this subbing worked today. They keep it mysterious on purpose so we can't rebel. Maybe.

    Old Kitty, while I'm not usually too aerobic during these classes (I only like accidental aerobics like walking or bike riding), I do the sit ups and stretches. That's good for my waistline!

    Let's hope all of us writers find some productive writing time.

  8. back in the (*cough*cough*) earliest of the '80s i was fresh out of high school, just back from a failed move halfway across the country following the Then Woman of My Dreams and working nights at a kite store. my mother, tired of seeing me depressed and hanging around the house during the days, suggested i try substitute teaching.

    the county was obviously desperate because they called me on a regular basis. once the schools took a look at my long hair, i was usually assigned to gym class where, i figured, they thought i could do the least damage. take roll, throw out the basketballs, collect the basketballs, repeat. how difficult can that be?

    now, the week i was in a detatched trailer subbing for a social studies teacher and a crate full of early '70s drugfilms came in... well, that even warranted a visit from the vice principal who mentioned that, regardless of what my personal views might be on the subject, this was a public school and there were certain expectations of teachers, even substitutes...

    subbing gave me some great stories.


  9. Looks like you've gotten a reputation for being reliable!

  10. Isn't that always the way, a flood of ideas when we can least get to them? I hope you have a pretty journal handy, to jot down itineraries and ideas to get to once the subbing subsides. I find that helps keep me on track when I'm away from the writing for a bit.

  11. Fivecats, thanks for visiting! "...crate full of early '70s drugfilms came in." I'd love hear the rest of that story!

    If it weren't for subbing, I don't know what I'd consistently (and entertainingly) blog about!

    India, oh no - I think you're right! I'm always considered reliable.

    Joanne, I should jot down the ideas in a notebook. I've been reminding myself instead, which is way more stressful.

  12. I hate that feeling of being stalled! I have a little bit of it right now, because I want to finish my WIP and get out those queries! But I know it should be polished up and I still need to write my synopsis.

    Keep going! Even if it means you get a little stalled here and there :)

  13. If a school or teacher likes you, they will keep calling you. Also perhaps not everyone accepts all the job offers and the system goes on to the next in line.
    Sometimes we feel things about what is going to happen. Maybe you are on to something about your writing, perhaps good things will begin to happen.
    I wish you all the best! Looking foward to hearing good news!

  14. Aubrie, I've been super-productive this morning. I've added edits from a beta reader to Aura, rewrote the query, and made some calls for the trip. Next, I'll add your last suggestions to The Disappearances. I love days off!

    Choices, since people can only turn down 5 jobs before they're fired, most jobs I get have to be first offer jobs. I wish they'd be more clear about how it all works.

    Thanks for the writing encouragement!

  15. I'm sorry about the, er, imbalance concerning which subs get called and how often. My school system does it by an automated system, and it appears to be randomized. Some weeks I'm swamped with jobs; others, I only end up working 2 days a week.

    I understand what you mean about the change in your writing and in your understanding of the MS. That's a great sign, and I really wish you the best!

  16. Ooo I love that "winds of change" feeling. I call it Spring matter what season it hits me. I can just tell something exciting is coming up. I hope it's good news for you!!

    Also, I love that quote at the top of the post. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Roll on the end of the year! Over here it doesn't finish until the end of July, which always seemed like torture to me!

    You must be good, Theresa - that's why you're getting lots of calls. I must say I'm very impressed by how you handle all the ups and downs!

    (PS - fingers crossed the good weather holds out! I was talking to someone in Paris today and he told me it was scorching there!)

  18. Shelley, thanks. I'm glad for work ($) but then I miss writing if it's too many days. I have today off and worked for a bunch of hours.

    MBW aka Olleymae, I thought spring fever meant we weren't productive but now I'm thinking it's spring cleaning for writing.

    Talli, I'm hoping for no rain but not too hot. Is that asking for too much? Sunny and in the 70s during the day with 60s of 50s in the evening would be perfect.

  19. As I understand it, teachers get to request which subs they'd like, so I'd say you're doing something very, very right! :)

    I know how it feels to have a to-do list longer than your arm and feel like you can never get to it, life just keeps getting in the way. And I don't even work outside the home. But I am looking forward to the slower pace of summer.

  20. Here, here! The end of the year cannot come soon enough! Press on sister!!!!! And get those ideas down post haste.

  21. Susan, maybe these sub gatekeepers listen more to requests more than the regular gatekeeper.

    I'm looking forward to summer too!

    T. Anne, This morning I got much more done than I thought I would. So I'm happy! I'm itching to query.

  22. Dear Teresa,

    I think you ought to put subbing on hold and go for it my friend. I would go with my gut and write, write, write!

    Other subs don't always answer the phone as reliably as you do...right? They are still going to call you if you take some days are too good for them not to!

  23. VKT, you're too sweet. My husband often tells me I follow to many rules. He encourages me to ask for particular jobs and to ask more questions. Maybe I should listen. .

  24. Clearly you're good if they keep asking you to sub. That's my take on it. :)

    Hopefully the winds of change are in your favor!

  25. Sounds like every day is an adventure. When you become a famous writer, do you think that you will miss subbing?

  26. The end is near, baby! Just remember that and hang in there!

  27. I'm rooting for you! And I think your persistence will pay off, because it sets you apart from all the other writers who give up too soon.
    I find myself impatient to write something other than lesson plans or comments on students' papers or notes for my dissertation prospectus. But by the time I finally get around to the writing I actually want to do, I often find myself too drained to do it. I'm thinking I should start with the writing I like first.

  28. Your getting the jobs because you're just that good. :) Congrats on your feeling positive about your manuscript. :) I hope you find the time to write. It sounds like your creativity is coiling inside ready to burst!

  29. It must be hard to leave the writing during the day and go off to work. I know the feeling when you have a million ideas floating around in your head and just don't have the time to write them all down. It can be very frustrating! It sounds like things are going well for you though, keep working on those manuscripts:)

  30. I admire you for getting through subbing for gym so positively, I remember subs who looked like they wanted to peg us with dodgeballs/run away when they got called in for gym.

    The end of the year can't come soon enough? I hope you can enjoy the summer in the meantime!

  31. Shannon, these days it feels like good enough to sub but somehow not good enough for a full-time job.

    I hope the winds of change are blowing in too.

    Paul Swendson, I've fallen over laughing... inside. It's hard to imagine I'll miss it. But it's not as bad as I thought except for (fill in the blank). It's great for my writing!

    Bossy Betty, you're right. I have three more days this week, and then two weeks left when I return.

  32. Neurotic Workaholic, it's hard to work full-time and write. Do you try during summer break? Beth Revis who recently got a book contract (three-book deal) did the majority of her writing during her vacations.

    Lani, yesterday was a productive writing day, but I don't think I'll have the luxury of any more of 'em 'til I get back. Or summer break.

    Olive, now the manuscripts are out of my hands. I need a beta reader for one and I have a final beta reader for the other.

    Bridge Marie, even behavior kids like P.E. so I find it easier than Math.

  33. You're an extraordinary teacher and your district is lucky that they get to utilize your talents as a sub for the time being!

    Your persistence is inspiring - I'm glad that the end of the year is fast approaching, so that you can fully focus on your writing.

  34. Kathleen, thanks. I can't wait to have more writing time.