It's January 4, which means the first day of classes at the university. And so my micro-sabbatical is over and I'm back; we flew in a few days ago, set up the new apartment, which is bigger and not so far from the previous ones, I finished my syllabi, posted the first one (for today) online, and met the 24 very smart and talented souls I'll be teaching in one of the three classes I'll have in my "Situation of Writing" class this quarter. A required course for all writing majors (poets, fiction writers and creative nonfictioners, some of them dramaturges and budding journalists, all in the same class!), it looks at various aspects of writing, literary history and culture, the publishing industries, and so much more. It should be fun. As part of the course the students will be tweeting, so I'll post a link to their feeds when that's up and running.
On Wednesday evening I'll have my first meeting with my graduate fiction writing (MA/MFA) students, at the Chicago campus, so this will be another winter of racing from Evanston downtown after the sun disappears and the truly frigid temperatures appear. Lake Shore Drive is always a challenge between 5-6 pm, but the drive home, especially if snowless, is especially serene. And Michigan Avenue is just down the street and around the corner, so I'll have incentive to get downtown early and while away an hour or so if I can. As with the "Situation" class, I have taught some of these students before, but many are new faces, so I'm looking forward to meeting them and becoming acquainted with their work.
My third class doesn't begin until mid-quarter, as it--and its mirror classes in the undergraduate program's other tracked two genres, poetry and creative nonfiction--is the only one in the college that's still on the (old?) semester system; it's the second half of the advanced theory and practice of fiction class that all fiction majors and minors must take, and the students will be transitioning from writing short stories to writing a novella, to be revised several times before they submit a final version at the end of the school year (the spring quarter, or the semester), in June. Given the extremely heavy reading load--two parallel fiction classes, which I often carry--I may not be blogging as much as I'd like, though I've made a vow to try to be more regular, and break the law of diminishing returns that anyone viewing this blog's yearly tallies could quickly identify.
There is of course all the rest of the university business that needs attending to, which is to say, a lot of reading and advising and so forth. I intend, to the best of my ability, to continue the writing progress I was able to make during my short respite from June to about late November. It was a bit of spring after so much winter; so many creative buds began to blossom, and one of the things I hope to do is to continue to nurture them, so that by the end of this year I will have several more complete drafts of projects, i.e., books, my books, ready to go. That's only a part of what I'm hoping and striving for in 2010.