Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hall duty and writing.

I work in a high school. People whine and complain, but actually, being a teacher is a really good gig.  Most of us like our jobs, we like the majority of the kids and the annoyances pale next to the really good things that happen. However, one of the things that sets off teachers like bottle rockets are duty periods--study hall, cafeteria duty and hall duty, to name a few.

Librarians, as a rule, won't get a duty period because we need the flexibility in our schedule to teach; however, this year I got lucky--I have hall duty.  To be honest, I haven't had a hall duty in years.  I keep joking with everyone that that last time was 1989.  That's a lie, of course, it was 1992.   I've changed schools three times since 1992.  I've gone from high school to elementary to high school again and I went from being a classroom teacher to a librarian.  

In 1992, airbags weren't standard on all cars, cell phones were rare, and the Internet was virtually unknown.  Digital readers?  iTouch? E-mail?  Nope.

But, for the most part, the kids are the same.

This is going to be an interesting study and I didn't expect it to be.  I can read or work on edits and not feel guilty. I see people I don't normally see and I get to observe.

Writing requires observation.  People, places and things all become fodder for the writer.  The sound heels make in a hall.  The smell of a hundred kids who have just come from phys ed.  Anything and everything can become part of a story.  The change of environment is good for me in that respect. Down the line I'll be setting one of my books in a high school, so the images, sounds and smells are all being filed away.

I never realized how much I stored up.  My life's experiences come flooding out when I put words on a page. I think about my character Laura in Games--she's an insecure sixteen-year-old.  She doesn't know where she fits in and when she makes a mistake, she makes a doozy, but we learn a lot about her.  I think we were all Laura once upon a time, some of us just dealt with it better than others. I have a journal full of things I felt when I was sixteen, and when I wrote this character I revisited some painful days and I'm better for it.

Life has become my personal hall duty.  I make a point each day to observe quietly and learn about my surroundings, learn about the people who are crossing my path and those who are on the periphery.  Hall duty is about making the best of a situation. So here's how I see this: I appreciate a cloudy day as much as a sunny day, a good cry as much as a good laugh and I try to enjoy each day for what it is, not for what it isn't.  Yes, there are times I hate Monday mornings, but in order to practice my craft, I need to experience a sucky Monday once in a while.

I'd like to be tucked away in my library, but getting out on a regular basis is good, too.

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