A Rumination on Some Exercises

It is not exactly a secret that I spent more than a decade teaching, that I thought for many years that I would make a career of being at the front of a classroom, helping students at one level or another learn how to do things that they might not enjoy quite at the moment, but that would help them later on–and that they might well come to enjoy, even if they did not do so in the moment. I spent a lot of time learning how to do that very thing (although not enough, clearly, else I’d be doing it now instead of working the job I have–but that’s probably for the better), and, as part of that learning, I got to do a number of the exercises I would later ask my students to do. It’s a good thing, truly; it’s hard for a person to guide someone else through something they’ve not yet done, after all, and I did try to make a practice in my teaching years of doing the assignments I asked my students to do–or something very much like them (adjusting, of course, so that they would not have the work done for them; they’d not learn anything if it were simply handed to them). I may have gotten a lot of things wrong in the classroom–I know I did–but I got that done right, at least.

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That said, I did not always find the assignments congenial–and, often enough, I was not in a position to simply select other exercises, being bound by my always-contingent positions to adhere to prescribed sequences of assignments. Since I still write, sometimes even for money, I still run into exercises that are not necessarily to my taste or liking; I still have to do writing that I find difficult, whether because I am not in a good headspace to do that work at that time, or because the work, however remunerative, is somehow otherwise objectionable to me. And sometimes, I have had exercises that I thought were good ones that ended up being…otherwise. The last, I try not to discuss more than to note that they have happened; it does me no good to dwell on the details more than I already have, and I can assure those readers who grace me with their eyes that I have rebuked myself thoroughly, at length, and in detail about my many failures. The first, I can address with another cup or pot of coffee and a shift in music, or else a lapse of a day–though that day all too often stretches out further than I ever ought to let it do.

The “otherwise objectionable,” though, is thornier. I have refused jobs that were outright racist or sexist to my first reading. (Yes, there have been some execrable fucks who’ve tried to get me to write for them.) More often, though, I’ve had issues of being asked to do writing that is innocuous enough on its surface but that is profoundly uncomfortable for me. The objection is not to the scope of the work, but to my having to do it; there are things which I do not do well because I know I should not be doing them. I try to be aware of my limitations, as those who have read my Hobb Reread entries will note; I often remark that I am not adept in a particular area, despite knowing enough to note that the area is applicable. Sometimes, I am aware of the mismatch before I get started, and I can turn away before going thence; too often, I do not realize it until I am in the midst of it, and all that remains is to plow ahead as best I can and keep it in mind for the future. And maybe I can work to be more comfortable talking about some other things than I already am, too.

That might actually be nice.

I can always use more help, and I always appreciate what I receive.

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