Faye Rapoport DesPres

A little time off

My semester at Lasell College ended early this year — I taught my last classes on December 3. I’ve taken the rest of the month off for medical reasons, although now, after an initial full break for two weeks, I am slowly and happily recuperating and returning to some of my normal routines. Getting back to writing has been one of my first goals, and this week I transcribed a short essay that I had written by hand during a recent trip to Cape Cod — it’s not fully formed yet, but getting a first draft into a typed file was a nice way to get back to my writing desk.

I’m also interested in pursuing more fiction at the moment, and I have some ideas in that direction that I hope to see begin to get worked out in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, it’s been nice to have true “time off,” something I’m not used to. As a writer who helps pay the bills with adjunct college teaching and freelance writing and editing work, it is a rare day that some task isn’t waiting in the background to be completed. There is usually a class to plan or teach, or a document to edit, or a stack of papers waiting to be graded. I’m so unfamiliar with the sensation of having nothing pressing on my time or conscience that I’m not even sure what to do with myself! That may be part of the reason that getting to my writing again is weighing heavily on me…I need a focus.

I’ve also been taking the opportunity to read–something I don’t have enough time to do when life is busy. I’m currently finishing up the Italian author Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. Her work is unusual, as well as intellectually challenging and interesting. Her large cast of characters are vividly drawn and thoroughly explored, and by drawing the reader into their world Ferrante introduces us to a place in time that I knew little about before reading the book–Naples in the post-World War II years. I find it appealing to read the work of a female author who takes on broad cultural, political, and societal themes from a female narrative perspective.

So, I’ve been reading, starting to write again, and enjoying a break from the normal patterns of my usual working life. I will only be teaching one course at Lasell next semester, so I hope to be more focused, overall, on getting back into the writing life for a while.

And you? What’s on your agenda in 2016?