Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reflections for the Summer of my Prose

Last day of summer vacation for me. School begins tomorrow, and the semester will be busy with me teaching a new class, Psychopharmacology. Our enrollments are up again after Katrina so the classes will be big. But I’ve had a relaxing summer to prepare and there will be pleasure in seeing my colleagues and students again.

What an incredible summer it has been, the most productive ever where my writing is concerned, and also just one of the happiest I can remember since the days of a less-than-carefree youth. I’ve realized how truly simple my needs are, how much of a balm the uncomplicated life is to my spirit. For the past three months I’ve risen in the morning around 9:30, spent a leisurely bit of time blogging while I watch the cardinals, blue jays, doves, chickadees and woodpeckers through my office window feeding at our backyard buffet. In the afternoon I’ve written, with ample breaks for reading on the deck or taking a nap. In the evening I’ve written more, with time out to spend with Lana, or with an occasional break in the routine as we’ve gone out to eat.

There have been moments of excitement and/or tension. A trip to Cross Plains for Howard Days. A journey home to see my mom. An SF conference and a book signing. These things were enjoyable, although some did create a little anxiety. But overall it has been a placid time, a time for reflection and work that, to me, is meaningful.

Two novels published this summer, although both were written well before. A third in the works. And now the poetry chapbook. These are things I’d hoped to accomplish years ago. But the timing was not right and that is one thing that has made this summer great. For the first time in my life, my timing has been good.

As for the writing I’ve been doing? Articles for The Illuminata and other places, a revision of the Writing in Psychology text that I wrote a few years back with some colleagues, and the “very near” completion of another major nonfiction project of which I’ll talk about at some later date.

I used to get irritated when people would make a comment like: “You teachers have it made.” They’d usually elaborate by telling me how I was off every summer and had so many vacation days during the school year, like at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I’d get irritated because I've had exactly one summer off since 1986, and most “supposed” school year vacations are actually times when teachers grades tests and papers and make up examinations and plan for the next semester’s courses. But this summer, I can see people being envious of my time off. I don’t blame them. In a few weeks I’ll be envious of myself.

A pleasant aspect of the summer has also been the interplay here in the blogosphere. I’ve enjoyed having more time to explore folks’ blogs and get to know them. No doubt I’ll have to cut back a bit on that as the semester rolls in. I don’t intend to quit blogging but I imagine my posts and my commenting will inevitably slack off. Please don’t imagine that this is lack of interest in what all of you have to say. But hey, even us teachers have to work sometime.
Now, on to a great autumn.


Nick said...

Congrats brother on everything. You seem to be on a bit of a roll.

Valdus Constante said...

Charles great comment. Even as a fellow teacher, I envied your summer. Man were you productive!

Think Ill go to my own blog and ponder the summer.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Donnetta said...

Hi, Charles. So good to hear that you had a great summer. I was sick all summer and wore both me and hubby out. And now--back to public school. Hubby says to tell you he also taught psychopharmacology. I hope I spelled it right. You will do a wonderful job. Your students are very lucky!

Anonymous said...

Green. I am green. But next summer is my time. No teaching. If all goes right, I will spend seven week in Italy...writing. I hate to rush time since it really goes by too fast, but I can hardly wait.

Congrats on a productive yet enjoyable summer.

Erik Donald France said...

Congrats on a summer well lived -- and good luck with the new semester!!!!!

Lisa said...

Congratulations on all of your successes and all you've accomplished this summer. I have truly enjoyed checking in here these last weeks as your posts are always interesting and thought provoking. Good luck with the new school year -- Psychopharmacology huh? Sounds fascinating.

Susan Miller said...

So much here, Charles, but, in my opinion, so much of the beauty surrounding you right now has to do with your attitude. Your outlook and potential for all the goodness out there seems to be be wide open right now in your life. This seems to be just another way you set such a great example for others.

Oh man, psychopharmacology should prove to be a most interesting class. There are so many discoveries happening right now, so many new things we are finding out about how the brain works, what chemicals are secreted and from where. It is mind boggling, and I would adore reading posts that you may have in regards to this. Fun!

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks, Nick. I hope it keeps rolling,

ooc, I want a summer like this for all my fellow teachers,

Donnetta, sorry you were ill. I hope that's cleared up. I think Psychopharm will be a fun class.

Jim, wow, the Italy connection sounds like heaven. I'll be envious of you next summer.

Erik, thanks, I'll need it.

Lisa, I'm glad you've been enjoying.

Susan, you're certainly right. Just being happy makes things go so much more smoothly. I'll post some tidbits on psychopharm as I go through the term.

Bernita said...

I think we all feel that gentle regret at summers's end, Charles.
So glad yours is mixed with satisfaction.

Michelle's Spell said...


This has been a good summer and I am sorry to see it go. I'm dreading the return to the classroom, but I'll be fine as soon as I get there. Congrats on all the productivity this summer!

Sphinx Ink said...

You can return to work feeling the glow of a productive vacation period. Congrats!

RichardS said...

Sounds like a wonderful summer, Charles. The summer over in the UK has yet to start, but i'm looking forward to the autumn. In October I'm off on a writing course for a week in the middle of nowhere, down in Devon.

There are some great tutors and a small group of us with nothing to do but write. Bliss.

Drizel said...

Sounds like you had a relaxing time...enjoy the new semester.:)

AvDB said...

It certainly was a productive summer for you, Charles. I hope you keep popping in to post on occasion; I truly enjoy reading your blog.

In the meantime, have fun with the psychopharmacology. Do you get to hand out samples? It'd make it an easier class, wouldn't it?

Clifford said...

Wow, sounds like your magical summer. Two books published -- yowza! Congratulations on that -- what a major accomplishment. And even better, it sounds like your on a roll.

You know, I think it's all about moving some of the bad things out of your space so you can breath. Whether it's an idyllic setting or a city full of noise and activity, it's all about finding that space for you. I'm glad you found yours!

Keep creating!

Lucas Pederson said...
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Lucas Pederson said...
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Lucas Pederson said...

Here, here, here!

I know you're not going away, but I want to thank you anyway. Thank you for all of your advice, your kindness, and your humor. It's helped more so than you can imagine. This summer was truly a great one and I hope your school year goes just as good. It was great, m'man. I'll see you around.

Steve Malley said...

Success breeds success: that's where 'rolls' come from. You may surprise yourself with what you write in the next nine months!

Rock on...

the walking man said...

Hey it's good to hear that a teacher finally used all that time off productively. Just kidding Just kidding...uhh if you come up with any new psychopharmacologic drugs...I'm always available for's not like I don't have the time to get sto...experimented on. lol

have a good semester and remember FFFFFFFFC-FFFFFFF . That's how Michelle grades papers when she's not busy kicking people out of her classes.

Good times, enjoy and, of course see you around Charles when you can make it.



Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the good wishes. I'm in the crazy moments of registration now so very few moments to do much. I'll be checking folks' blogs today at some point though.

cs harris said...

The summer as a halcyon idyll--one of the great things about being a kid. Reading your post took me back to those golden days away from all the boring pressures of school, surrounded by the sweet smell of ripening hay, the sight of the sun warming the chestnut flanks of a grazing mare while a robin chirped from a nearby birch. You should be a breath of fresh air walking into your classrooms this fall. And Steve Malley's right--surely some of that glow and productivity will linger through the common months.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


Every job has its woes and those that are not it is see the greener grass, only they do not realize there are spots of brown that they can not see. I am happy to read another person having a calming summer.

Classes for me start soon as well, although I am graduating...finally..smiles.

Good luck in the new semester, sounds like it will be an interesting one.