Originally posted on May 21, 2017, ‘The Road Not Taken’ recalls all of the trials of the past year that have prepared me to begin submitting queries for ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up‘.
And besides last year’s being the most professionally successful year I’ve had to date, I finally learned how to swallow my pride and ask for help. Now, I’m starting to see the benefits.
I remember having to memorize Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in Ninth Grade English. Although terrified at first as an awkward freshman in a school I did not want to attend, the experience forced me to confront and overcome my fear of speaking in front of others. This experience has proven invaluable in adulthood as I make presentations every period I teach and regularly am asked to address parents and graduates.
That “Road Not Taken” is what I believe I am on right now as I’m finally finding my way out of a hole of middle school and ninth grade poetry that has consumed my life for the past two-and-a-half weeks. Rising earlier and leaving later has dominated the 2016-2017 school year.
That commitment has yielded some of my greatest professional successes:
- Some of the best student-generated poetry I’ve ever read
- Quantifiable progress from a handful of struggling learners
- The return of The Overlook Journal
- The maturation in perspective of my seventh and ninth grade classes
- The building of my reputation as an academic mentor and tutor and an executive function coach
- My own acknowledgment of my weaknesses inside and outside of the classroom
Yet, this year has also seen the stagnation of my writing, whether it be blogging, drafting my next manuscript The Heroin Times, or finding the right agent to ensure the success of Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up.
I tell myself I have a primary job that at times takes me away from my writing. Yet, I also have a passion that gnaws at my conscience when I do not indulge it. In the past, I’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul by not doing my best in my planning, assessing, and teaching the kids. And the kids who are always the ones left holding the bag deserve better.
In other instances, I’ve driven myself up the wall to rush to put together substandard content – whether it be a blog post or a query or a proposal. I, too, deserve better than the mania I feel in every quiet moment where I’m reminded that I cannot find the time or am too mentally and physically spent to do what truly satisfies me.
So, as my father always tells me, nice and easy. A great struggle for me, for sure, but that’s the mantra I have adopted. With that in mind, I plan on taking off major portions of the summer to focus exclusively on my writing. That means no summer school for the first time in seven years and limiting the number of private clients with whom I will work.
If anything, this past year has reminded me that my haste will be my undoing. The more I rush to finish this, to get this out, to be here, or to see this person or that person, the worse the result will be. That much I can now admit. And I’m not trying to get another form rejection (if that).
Sometimes, I think maybe I’m afraid of rejection after seeing it early on. And maybe I am. But I believe in myself and what I have done and still can do.
And that’s what keeps me rising every day as I look forward to the work that lies ahead in the midst of my “Road Not Taken” moment. As Frost writes,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
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