This is the first of two new blog posts today, so stay tuned for the second — Day 2 of 8 Days of Giveaways — coming to a website near you in the next 6 hours or so! To see Day 1 of 8 Days of Giveaways, which is still open for entries, click here.
For now, though, I have three pressing priorities:
- I need to let you know THIS fabulous item –>
challah bread shaped like a menorah (?) — is available for sale via Amazon as part of Oprah’s Favorite Things this holiday season. This is clearly essential info without which we CANNOT adequately celebrate. Made by Eli’s Bread, whose motto should be Celebration Is On The Rise. Yes? Yes. Also, GOD BLESS OPRAH for spreading joy.
- My friend, Melanie Springer Mock, writing professor, needs a way to avoid end-of-term grading.
- I have a writing retreat coming up at the end of January with a few spots left. I want to make sure you know, because I’d LOVE to see you there.
So. Three priorities. There’s no further follow-up for the first one. Obviously. That one’s a wrap, and I did a stand-up job of it if I do say so myself. You’re welcome, friends. I am here for you.
Numbers 2 and 3, though, we can take out in one fell swoop. Two birds, one stone. ‘Cause Melanie is one of the writing professors who’s teaching at the January writing retreat, and, as a result, she spent the time she was supposed to be grading papers writing this to you this, instead.
The Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat:
An Invitation and Avoidance Technique ‘Cause WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
by Melanie Springer Mock
We are living in the end times, my friends.
No, I don’t mean those end times, even though the torrential downpours in Oregon this week make me think I need to stockpile Chex Mix, Diet Coke, and cookie dough in preparation for the apocalypse.
For me and the thousands of other miraculously employed writing professors, the weeks before Christmas mean the end times of another semester, and the onslaught of essays that need to be evaluated. Yes, I know assigning these essays was my own damn fault, but still: I’m facing a few brutal weeks of grading. Thank God for Netflix.
As my pile of essays to grade looms larger, I’ve found all manner of distraction—important tasks that just can’t wait any longer. These include:
- Cleaning both my desk and the refrigerator. (The procrastinator’s clichéd activities)
- Responding to emails from September. (Ditto: totally cliched)
- Watching The Yellow Submarine with a friend’s teenaged daughter. (An awesome experience, even without drugs).
- Having my hair straightened. (First time in 47 years. Why wait a moment longer?)
At this rate, my grading will never get finished, but the rest of my life will be entirely under control. Then again, maybe not.
Despite this agony of grading essays, I love my job, in great part because I love my students—or at least most of them. I enjoy the opportunity I have to read their stories, to learn about their lives, and to help them become stronger writers (sometimes to the point where they surpass me, as happened this semester when one student got published in Christianity Today on her first attempt. I’m only a little jealous).
Perhaps because my life’s calling is helping other people find and claim their writing voices, I love facilitating Beth Woolsey’s Magic in the Mess Writing Retreats. What could be better than spending a weekend with people who are at every stage in their writing journeys and help them write down the stories they’ve been longing to tell? Being a part of that process brings me great joy. Not having to grade the stories retreat guests complete is a nice bonus.
But there’s more to love about the writing retreat: A relaxing weekend spent at the coast with like-minded folks in a well-appointed beach house. Amazing food and wine, prepared by some of the most talented people I know. An open schedule that provides space for writing instruction and practice, but also for discussion around a campfire, a soak in the hot tub, long naps, and ample reality television. (Ok, so I might be the only writing professor in the U.S. who watches reality TV. Pray for me.)
The few spots remaining for the January 28-31 retreat, held at Seal Rock, Ore., are going fast! You can read more about the retreat here. This would be a great Christmas present to give yourself: the opportunity to relax, to find new friends who also love writing, and to release the words you have been longing to share.
Hope to see you in January!
(And I do, too!
Melanie Springer Mock is a professor of English at George Fox University. In 2009, she won the university’s Faculty Achievement Award for Undergraduate Teaching, and in 2015 she received the school’s Faculty Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. She is the author or coauthor of four books, including, most recently, If Eve Only Knew (Chalice Press, 2015). Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Nation, Christian Feminism Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Mennonite World Review, among other places. She blogs about (and deconstructs) images of women embedded in evangelical popular culture at Ain’t I a Woman? Her primary interests include making her 12-year-old sons take showers already, watching good (that is, awful) reality television, and taking long naps, on her office floor if necessary.