Yesterday was the summer solstice and Fete de la Musique, the popular music festival that takes over the streets of Paris. The sky rained, then shined, then opened up and unleashed a humongous helping of hail.
By evening, the freak storm had passed and people paraded through the streets taking in the tunes.
I’m not sure why it is, but I always have something big I’m preparing for that precludes me from fully engaging in the festivities. They are always good things, though, so I’ve come to associate the day with opportunity. Last year I was about to jet back to the States and pick up my MFA degree. This year I am preparing for an entire month in Spain.
You read that right – Espana!
At the beginning of this month I was offered the chance to teach creative writing to high school study abroad students…in Barcelona. As you might imagine, I leapt at the idea. It didn’t hurt that this summer has seen me staring out at rain, hail, etc (see above) and the forecast in Barcelona shows a straight line of happy suns. More than that, of course, is that the job will be an amazing experience.
I immediately was also swept away by terror, however. I’ve never taught before (well, not creative writing; I’m not sure my Pilates experience means much here) and it dawned on me that teaching 3 hours a day, 6 days a week (!) required a lot of preparation. For those who haven’t taught such a class, I suppose 3 hours a day sounds like nothing. Hit the beach after, you say! No. It does not work that way. See, the normal writing workshops I’ve been involved with – let’s just say they’re once a week for a couple of hours at a time.
Here I have the same group of students every day for 3 hours, day after day, expecting something new, much material to be covered.
Luckily, excitement has overtaken terror. And it’s my mojo, anyway: I’m scared, but I do things anyway. It’s been a hoot looking through all the stories and poems and essays that I love, thinking about what will be the most fun and engaging for the kids. So much of the writing process is onerous for me that it’s been a gift going back and rediscovering just what it is I love so much about it. My god, these beautiful words! This amazing image! How did the author pull off such an incredible feat?!
Needless to say, my blogging might drop off a bit (or entirely). Picture me discovering a new city and my voice in a new context, maybe even rediscovering my Spanish. Also, wish me luck.
I’ll be speaking on a panel next week at the Paris Writers’ Workshop (and attending many of the afternoon sessions as a participant myself – full schedule here) and then heading off.
So for the moment I leave you with some sunny French pop, in the spirit of summer, and music, and all good possibilities to come.