I do this thing every year where I work as a counselor for a writing camp for high school aged kids. It’s a guaranteed peak experience; I come away from it feeling like a zen master. The kids are beyond amazing: little burning balls of energy and creative force. All I need to do is wave generally at the idea of “image” and they get it — snap! — and they’re off writing amazing poetry and fiction. I don’t mean, amazing for a fourteen year old. I mean amazing. Like, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that in a couple years I’ll walk into Borders and see a name I recognize from writing camp sitting on a shelf.

I mentioned this camp to a buddy, and he said something like “I miss being sixteen, when I could just write poetry and say things that really mattered to me.” And I realized, hey, that’s the Great Work. Saying what really matters. Connecting. Those of us who get there by the crooked old road of magic, well, we’re maybe a little weird. But others get there by other means, and it doesn’t matter the boat; it’s the river that matters.

I’m sad. I miss my kids. Would you believe last year, when I was asked to do this, I considered not doing it because I thought I didn’t like kids? I was an idiot. I didn’t know kids. It turns out, I like these kids more than most people I’ve met this year.

No, I’m not going to get my teacher’s certification; for one thing, I’m not up for sitting in those cramped desks again after eleven years of doing so for my Ph.D. For another thing, I know very well that my campers chose to be there because they liked writing. I suspect most of my students, if I became a high school English teacher, would be like — well, wouldn’t much want to be there. I’m not interested in discipline.

I am going to focus a bit more on poetry. And I’m making some other changes, too, which I’ll talk about later.


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