This is only the third newsletter I've sent out this year, and I confess I feel a little presumptuous sending it. We're all busy, so many of us so much more busy (and stressed) because of the pandemic than we ever were, and so I find myself wondering whether there is any justification at all for me to add yet one more email to your inbox.
In fact, before I go any further, let me take a moment here to remind you that if you don't want to receive these missives from me anymore, ever, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of this email.
The reason I'm sending this to you now, despite my doubts, is that I have stepped down from my position as one of the two vice presidents of my faculty union--a decision I made in order to pursue a writing opportunity that I would almost certainly have had to let pass otherwise--and that choice has allowed me the mental space I did not have before to reflect on what I want my writing life to be now that I have reclaimed for it the time I had been devoting to the union. Figuring out what to do with this newsletter, what I want it to be, is part of that process.
I began working for my union about ten years ago, and I don't regret a single minute, but the fact is that doing that work meant setting my own writing largely aside. Not that I've been completely inactive. I published my second book of poems, Words For What Those Men Have Done, during that time, as well as assorted other poems and essays, including "Attar's Tale of Marhuma: The Woman With a Manly Heart," my first ever peer reviewed publication, but most of those publications were rooted in work I did before I became the union's Communications Coordinator, a job that I incorporated into my duties as union secretary when I was elected to that position in 2015.
Writing and managing the union blog, writing and managing almost all communications with our members, not to mention all the other duties I performed as a union officer, left me less and less time for my own writing, and when I became our Vice President of Classroom Faculty in the summer of 2020, what little time I did have shrunk even more. I didn't realize how heavily that weighed on me, though, till the end of the 2020-2021 academic year when circumstances that are neither appropriate nor worth going into here conspired to make me very unhappy in my position as Vice President. Had those circumstances been different, I might have tried to find a way to achieve more of a balance between the writing I wanted to do and the demands of being a union officer, but they weren't different, and so I stepped down.
I have mixed feelings, of course. The past 10 years have been personally very fulfilling; I know I made a real difference in the lives of some union members; and I know that much of the union as a whole supported the work I did. At the same time, I would be lying if I said that stepping down hasn't also been liberating. I'm looking forward to focusing at work pretty much solely on my classes and to not having the demands of the union interfere with my writing, which, along with doing the writing, includes promoting it and staying in touch with people who have shown interest in my work, like you.
So there you have it. I've been reading with interest what some other people have been doing with their newsletters, and I have been intrigued. So I plan to experiment with the frequency and content of mine. I hope you'll let me know what works for you, and what doesn't, and, again, if you'd prefer not to receive my newsletter anymore, just click the unsubscribe button below.
I hope you are all safe and healthy and that 2022 proves to be a turnaround year for us all. We certainly deserve it!