The mother to a middle school-aged son, Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson scribbles ideas for essays on napkins and scraps of paper and then loses them. A long-time teacher with an irrational love for office supplies, she is grateful to her family and students who remind her that, even on a good day, she’s still a total twit. Read her blog Teachers & Twits, follow her on Facebook or stalk her on Twitter @rasjacobson.
When I started my career as an English teacher sixty-five bajillion years ago, I assumed I would have plenty of time to write poetry and short stories. Maybe I’d even pump out a novel or two. I figured life as a teacher meant I’d always be exposed to new books and new authors, that I’d always be reading and writing. It was going to be awesome.
How stupid naive I was.
Because high school English teachers are doomed to read the same titles over and over again. And there are always parents to call, clubs to run, curricula to develop, and committees to chair.
But at the time, I believed I could continue to hone my craft while helping others learn how to write five paragraph essays and assisting them as they developed their own emerging writing styles.
In May 2010, while reading research papers composed by students from my Comp-101 class, it happened. I had just finished reading essay number 28 out of a stack of 52. I was checking citation for accuracy — one of the less rewarding aspects of the job description – when a little piece of my brain went on a road-trip.
I remembered how I’d once walked along Bourbon Street, alone, after midnight. How I’d felt ghosts flying around me, but I was not afraid. I remembered thinking ghosts do not know what they are, they are just there and go where people cannot.
I looked around for a piece of paper because my right hand needed to move, to make connections in the universe. Something about the ghosts that swirl around us and the elusive nature of love.
Except there was that tall stack of papers to grade.
And my students needed them back so they could revise.
And then I realized — with the exception of hundreds of comments, scribbled in purple in the margins of my students’ papers — I hadn’t composed anything original in ten years.
I didn’t know anything about blogging, per se.
I just knew I wanted a place where I could mess around with words. I wanted to see if I made a space for her, if maybe, just maybe, my muse might come back.
I didn’t think about the title of my blog for more than two minutes. Teachers & Twits made sense because I am both, everyday – as I believe most people are. We all know a lot about a few things and the rest of the time we try not to fall down or do anything too stupid.
I picked the very first theme I found on WordPress, and I have never changed it. And blogging immediately became a serious addiction. Because I can’t stop. I found a community of writers with whom I easily connected, and I am forever meeting new folks whose words inspire me to be a better writer myself.
One of the best things about blogging is the dialogue between the writer and the reader. Your comments are like a watermelon flavored Ring-Pop sandwiched between two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And by that, I mean they are sweet and delicious and fat-free. You keep me writing, keep encouraging me that I have something to say, even when I start to doubt myself. You keep me hopeful that someday maybe a few people outside my immediate family might buy the book I’m working so hard to finish. I’m grateful to paper # 28 for being so dull that my brain went elsewhere.
And, I am indebted to the New Orleans ghosts who came to remind me that nothing you truly love has to ever disappear.