The Drawbacks of Part-Time

Author:
Publish date:

Last week, when the snowstorm forced school closings for two days and I was allowed two whole days of freedom to write, I thought to myself, Ah! So this is what it could be like ALL THE TIME if I had chosen to go to grad school full-time instead of keeping my teaching job and attending classes at night! I spent those two glorious days sleeping until noon and alternating the rest of the day between writing and watching Maury Povich. Being programmed genetically to sleep that late every day (ask my mom or siblings; they’re the same way), I have never quite gotten used to that alarm going off at 6:00 every morning, and I thought to myself, I could be living on loans now, spending all of my time writing, and I could finish this thesis manuscript in a couple months, no problem!

But then I remembered: if I didn’t work full-time, I wouldn’t get paid full-time. I wouldn’t have a pension, a retirement plan, or insurance. And I certainly wouldn’t have the endless supply of writing material that comes from teaching high school.

But I’ll be honest: there are plenty of drawbacks to choosing to work full time while doing an MFA, and I think it’s important to know about them if you’re trying to make a decision on the matter. First, there’s the obvious: time. Writing requires a great deal of it. The better you get at it, the more time you need. And the more you work, the less time you have. Also, you can’t take any day-time classes, which narrows your choices of teachers and courses. You can’t go to most night-time events, either, because as we all know, writers like to drink, and most such events are held at bars, and I can’t afford to go to work hungover (because as we also know, writers aren’t known for their self-control, either). Being part-time, I feel like I’m part of the community but separate, too, because I’m not down at school as often. I don’t know people unless they’re in classes with me. And then of course, there’s the annoyance of having to listen to the people in your program (who work ten hours a week or less) complain about how busy they are and how much they have to get done when you’re thinking of the stack of 80 Great Gatsby essays you have to grade and silently cursing them and their leisure time.

But then, this past weekend, one of my students invited me to his hockey game for teacher appreciation night. Each player honored a teacher, and we got to go out on the ice to take a picture with our students, while the parents provided us an enormous dessert table and the crowd gave us an ovation (and our team won!). It was so moving to me, the simple act of being asked to attend this event, that I remembered then why I teach. It’s part of who I am, and it finds its way into my writing over and over again. I think I’m a better writer because of the work I do. Perhaps one day, if I write that blockbuster novel, I’ll be able to afford to switch roles: write full- time and teach part-time. But for now, I’m happy with my situation. You have to experience life in order to be able to write about it.

Any thoughts about working full-time while in grad school?

Batra&DeCandido_1:18

Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.