An Update…

By Andrew R. Duckworth

Photo and photo editing by Andrew R. Duckworth

It occurred to me the other day that I had not posted a poem or short story in quite some time. With a new teaching position, that’s a bit hard to do. There is not a whole lot of time for it as of now, although there will be a sci-fi/ horror short I’m going to post in a few days.

I have started a new teaching job in Fort Worth, TX, teaching High School English and AP Language and Composition. a lot of time has gone into Unit planning, syllabus construction, etc. On top of it, we are still teaching virtually at the moment as COVID-19 is still a thing, so we are having to plan for virtual delivery, etc. That leaves little time for an overwhelming amount of creative writing although I occasionally find ways to wedge it into an already crammed schedule. Between continuing with my certification (which I’m hoping to put off a year so I can at least try to maintain mental health), preparing to teach, and moving into a new place, there is little time for much else.

That having been said, I have worked a bit on a few short stories when I have a bit of time to myself which, as I’ve addressed, is not very much time at all. However, I find that my creative writing seems to be at its best when I am under a mountain of pressure. So, if anything, once I am able to get one of these stories finished, it might be some of my best work. While I’m certainly no Stephen King and would never pretend to be, I’m not a terrible writer and, even if I was, I would still write because it is something that I love doing.

The short story project I’m currently working on, aside from the sci-fi short I mentioned earlier, is based in a ridiculously absurd world where aspects are exaggerated to a point that it might come off as more humorous than Horror. The stories are all united only by the environment they share, a broken down world where humanity is scrambling desperately to pick up the pieces and form some semblance of what can be conceived as “normal,” if there ever even was such a thing. They won’t be posted here, however. If I go through with the project, and I imagine I will although it will be a while before they are completed, I will seek publication. I will continue to post poems and short stories to this site, but it will be a rather slow process. So, just bare with me.

On another note, it will be nice to once again receive a paycheck, although that is not my reason for teaching (I mean, if anyone wants a big payday… education isn’t the route to take). I’ve long said that I’m not interested in mansions, super cars (although if someone wants to give me a Lamborghini, I’m not exactly going to say “no”), or nightly trips to 5 star restaurants. So long as I am doing something I love and am able to pay rent, pay utilities, and be able to put food on the table, I’m good. I can do without the extra. My main goal in life is to do something worth while. Educating, I can think of no better way to spend time than to pass on knowledge and do so in a way that is engaging and thought provoking.

I first thought about the idea of teaching high school way back in the caveman days (that’s right, 14 years ago). I had a high school English teacher who was amazing. Her name is Mrs. Vicki Jones. If only she knew the impact she had on me. I had long heard from many of the older students that Mrs. Jones was mean, etc. Mrs. Jones knew this reputation of course. The thing is, she wasn’t mean at all. But she did have expectations, and she knew what her students were capable of. To this day, I’ve yet to come across one of my classmates from high school who have anything bad to say about her. We respected her and she earned that respect. I remember coming away from her classes thinking “if only I can teach the way she does some day.”

And then my college instructors had a huge impact on my pursuit of a teaching position. I got to witness masters in pedagogy teaching subjects they loved. And I was taking note of way more than just the subject they taught. I also took note of how they taught and what methods produced the biggest effects, what methods engaged the most with fellow students, etc.

Earning my masters brought me to another great opportunity: tutoring in a writing lab and being a Teacher’s Assistant. I loved every second of it and learned a lot of valuable skills. It brought me to where I am now, having finished a decent portion of my certification, and being employed at a private school that caters to underserved areas. I’m a week from stepping into a new house and a step closer to being able to teach a subject I’m passionate about: Composition, rhetoric, and literature. I’m a step closer to marrying my wonderful fiancée and starting our new adventure together here in Texas.

That is the update as of now. Be on the lookout for future poems and short stories.

– Andrew Ryan Duckworth

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