I Promise to Change My Clothes Every Day

PreK with 4th grade buddies

Last year I realized I couldn’t afford my writing career. Four months ago I set out to find a job and was hired to teach the PreK program at a Catholic School just 10 minutes from my house.

I expected the creative rush, a renewed positive outlook on life, and the inevitable slow-down of my writing. I was right of course, on all three counts. At 50 years old, self-realization just happens and it’s best to accept the good with the bad.

But I didn’t realize how the two different aspects of my life would create such a steady, healthy rhythm. I call it the magic in my days.

Each morning I wake with a sigh that I won’t be able to write at my favorite carrel in the Radnor Memorial Library. I stumble into the bathroom with a cup of coffee and toss my sweats and tank top on the floor. Another sigh – just months ago, on a good writing clip, I’d go two to three days in the same clothes. Writers are a superstitious group. How could I shower? Washing the muse down the drain was too much of a risk!

After the shower there’s the hair dryer and make-up. I never bothered with them before my new job. Though I always washed my face and brushed my teeth, I only cared enough to hide my hair under a baseball cap. But now I go the extra mile for my students – and their parents. I guess the principal, too. She’s pretty laid back and would do anything for her teachers. I’d be pushing it if I showed up in my writing gear. I do them all the courtesy of showering and dressing professionally. You’ll be happy to know that these days, I change my clothes every day.

As I drive down route 252, I plot out the next chapter in my novel, create dialogue, decide to kill a character, or introduce a new one. Sometimes I can’t keep it straight in my mind. That’s when you’ll see me pull off the side of the road and frantically scribble notes. There’s no guarantee the elusive creative thought will come back. Sadly, I’ve lost many of them on that morning drive.

When I pull into the school parking lot, that’s it. No more writing, or thinking about writing, for another 10 to 12 hours. I shut it all down as I unlock the door to my classroom.

And then the magic happens.

I walk through that door and the crayons, chalk, smart boards, blocks, Jesus Corner, and cubbies greet me. Like my story, they’ve been waiting for me to arrive.

Within thirty minutes, the students tumble in and fill my writing void with life. Their untied shoelaces, runny noses, questions, creativity, and laughter burst into my day and I’m in the presence of something sacred.

I use to sit in a library and write about life for about six hours a day. Now, I’m surrounded by wonderful chaotic life for six hours.

And my writing? I wait until 7:30-8 at night to pick it up.

The magic happens again.

All that life from a group of four and five year olds gives me fresh perspective. The muse whispers in my ear and I try to keep up with its train of thought until, exhausted, I shut down my laptop and fall into bed. It takes only a minute or two and I’m sound asleep.

I sleep soundly because I know when I wake up, I get to do it all over again.

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