Cam Scott is Contributing Editor to Cheek Teeth. Learn more on his website.
Actually, not that I’d wish it on the world, but I’m reminded a little bit of Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, where the entire planet goes through a nuclear revolution/war and the only people left alive are on a tour boat headed to the Galapagos Islands. Over time, due to a few genetic twists and strange turns, these humans and their ancestors become much furrier and simpler than we currently are. And so it goes.
I’ve also been thinking often about my buddy Tony, a math teacher who read Dante in a graveyard one afternoon, quit teaching math, and became a poet, only to return to teaching a few years later. He is out there, not exactly buried under stacks of papers, but definitely buried under the various responsibilities of teaching again, and his poems have disappeared from the world. As a mentor recently wrote in an email to me: “The next thing to think about, after the ideal goal of teaching creative writing… is to think about what comes between the spectrum of your present endeavors and getting perhaps to that very goal. In other words, protecting your writing by putting it off to the side, to do privately when you have time, and get at a kind of work that pays you decently and allows you to put money away and get medical insurance. Asking a lot, sure, but it is the only way to protect the writing I think.” Freak out!
See, I’ve been pondering lately if it is better to teach young crafty minds: ankle dragging, hormone spiking, heel dug knuckle bumping minds. Or to sit by a pond watching ducks and philosophizing about life in the form of a poem? When it comes down to it, I don’t need duck ponds. But I do need to teach and write. Which is good, because I’m back in Chiloquin, Oregon teaching this fall, and I’ve been thinking about that balance between teaching and the idea of protecting my writing. I have a very soft spot for ankle dragging, hormone spiking, heel dug knuckle bumping minds. But the idea of putting my writing off to the side is… terrifying. Vertigo. Panic. Anxiety inducing. Which probably means it might be a good thing. At least to work towards some new professional goals in life. It goes. Yes it does.
Or not. Maybe I’ll just stay a fly fishing guide forever, and protect my writing by some strange non-traditional path which involves teaching and writing in the winter months. But the idea of teaching creative writing in a university or college setting, well, it’s like my dream of getting married, having a kick-ace wife, wonderful kids, and having a house and something societally solid to stand on: just out of reach, like a rainbow, that keeps me moving, in fits and starts, forward, yep, into some gnarly rainstorms. But then again, atoll! Yours truly & sunburned. Thanks for reading!