For a very long time I’ve been a very good student. I’m good at paying attention and taking notes and organizing information so that I can refer back to it easily, even making notecards and developing strategies for easy access to what I’ve learned for the inevitable quiz or test or paper that I would write.
All that translated very well into teaching – so well, I think, that there was a point early on in my teaching career when I was able to identify what it was that suited me so well about it. Teaching at the university level gave me an outer structure for my days and weeks and years. And I had been so thrilled to go back to school – to go to university after having quit high school when I was 16 ~ that when I became a teacher to help pay my way through grad school, the transition was a natural one.
When I was a student I had deadlines. The research stopped when I had taken all the notes I could and the due date for the paper or exam or quiz was looming. Later, as a teacher I had the same thing, except that I was the one that was blocking out the syllabus and schedule and setting exams and assignments. In both cases I had someone to be accountable to: as a student I was accountable to the teachers for turning things in and doing so on time; as a teacher I was responsible to my students to grade and turn back their assignments within a reasonable amount of time.
As a writer and an entrepreneur I don’t have anyone that I am really accountable to. There are no due dates or deliverables looming over my head, making me stop the research at a certain point and collate what I’ve learned and produce results based on my findings. What I do find myself doing is exercising my excellent and well-honed study skills by reading in my area of interest, watching videos, listening to audios and taking notes ~ all intended to then be developed into some kind of writing: a story or a blog post or a book. But it rarely ever comes to fruition.
There’s a bit in The Stand (the original 1978 version of which I consider to be King’s master-piece): when, during a conversation on a similar subject, Stu Redman says to Glen Bateman, “Awake at the lectern, asleep at the switch,” (immediately followed by Glen’s rejoinder: “Fuck you, East Texas” and the comfortable laughter friends share). It’s been years since I read that book, yet I still can see that exchange between Stu and Glen as clearly as if I had just read the lines moments ago.
I knew immediately what he meant ~ and it now feels wryly familiar. I can talk about (and teach) almost anything, including the steps one should follow to succeed in a particular area ~ but putting them consistently into practice in my own reality? Yeah, not so much, apparently.
There’s another old saying that often springs to mind: “It’s the shoemaker’s kids who go barefoot.” (Generally, I think, because the shoemaker is so busy making shoes for others as his livelihood, shoes for himself and his family usually go to the back of the line to be done later or, you know, not at all.)
So, now that I’m not making so many “shoes” for others, how can I go from awake at the lectern to awake at the switch?
Upon which very mixed metaphor, I must depart ~ still musing, and still intent on finding my way. To be (no doubt) continued . . . .
See you (likely barefoot) on the beach ~