Feb 10, 2013

Becoming real

After sixteen years in portables, the school where I teach moved into new classrooms last week.
The addition is attached to our gym/office building, which means I was front-and-center watching the construction. My room was right next to the new hallway and it was great to see each stage: the walls go up, the sheet rock hung, painted, the carpet installed. Anyone who's build a house can relate... think of 250 of us anticipating moving in! Our students and their parents were elated and showed up in droves last week to help us move. We moved almost everything - seven classrooms plus a library - in one night and had classes in the new building the next morning. Talk about enthusiasm!

But it was nothing compared to the staff. Years of enduring frozen or burst pipes, wonky heaters, sticky doors, uneven floors, zero storage, poor lighting, constant dust meant a clean classroom with built-in storage and new bathrooms was like heaven. And my own room - although not in the new wing but new to me - is twice as big as the room I left. I was teaching in the old library, complete with shelving pushed to the sides. There was barely room to turn around when my students were in class. Now I have a real desk. With plants! And pretty pictures on my walls! I can walk between  desks without bumping into someone! 

"It's like we're a real school," one of my colleagues told me. Now, the charter school where I teach is one of (if not the) top schools in our district when it comes to test results. Our staff has won numerous awards and many of them are pioneers in the field of education in our state. We have a waiting list of students dozens long for each grade level.

Yet it took a building to make them feel real. Like they'd finally arrived. Validated.

I felt validated as a writer back when I was getting paid to write. And even then, I had my doubts. "You're a journalist?" one woman asked me once when I was covering a story. "Isn't that what people do who can't get published?"
Ouch. And here I'd thought I was getting published...

Four years later, do I still feel validated? Sometimes. Do I feel like a real writer? *stares at huge rejection letter pile* Yup.

How about you? When did you feel you were a real writer?


Silvia said...

I've won writing contests where my stories were supposed to be published but nothing happened, so that was disappointing. I now cover articles for a volunteering organisation's newsletter, so when that gets published I'll be able to show it off and feel validated.

Melissa Sarno said...

Was sent to you blog from Amy Sonnischen and so glad I stopped by. I think I'm a real writer. People pay me to write. And even though I'm not yet published, I take my work as seriously as if I have been. I think that's the key. Very thrilled about your new room and I'm happy you feel validated as teacher and writer : )

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Congrats on becoming a "real school." How wonderful it must feel to have your own classroom now. ;)

I still don't feel like a "real writer." Maybe one day... ;)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I have days when I feel real and other days when I know someone is going to come and revoke my validation.

Nicole said...

I've always felt like a "real" writer, but there are always new levels to reach.

Carrie Butler said...

Congratulations on the new classroom, Melodie! That must be so exciting. :D

I felt like a "real" writer when I signed my book deal, but the feeling faded. It came back when I started getting reviews from book bloggers. Here's to hoping it sticks this time!

Emily R. King said...

I think I'll feel validated when I get a paycheck. That's the way of the world. No one takes you seriously until you're making moo-lah. :)

Lynn Proctor said...

i have always felt i had a writers heart :)