I teach English as a Second Language. I love my job. I meet people from all over the world and I have fun while they are introduced to, or continue with, their foray into the messed up world of language learning.
I am a native English speaker. I have a Master’s in Linguistics. I trained for, and honed my craft for years in order to present the innocents – I mean my students – with a professional view of what they need to know. So I have often scoffed at those travelers who just “go overseas” and “teach English” as though being a native speaker automatically qualifies you for the job.
And then I wrote a book.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have done a lot of writing in my time. I’m just not trained in the art, nor have I honed the craft via any kind of writing training.
Be careful how you criticize others – isn’t there a saying that starts out something like that?
Perhaps if I were to have taken creative writing classes in college I would have been guided by my betters to a successful career.
Maybe if I had joined the school newspaper in my chaotic high school experience I might have gone into journalism.
Or, even better, if I had written my first – and needless to say brilliant – novel in the ‘80’s I could have found an agent by now. Yes, I was alive then.
But I did none of those things.
I just started typing one day on my computer.
And tried to publish.
And got rejected.
Over and over.
Until I decided to go my separate way – which in reality is many separate ways.
I blog, I Tweet, I Facebook, and I write books which I self-publish and sometimes even sell. I even write what I like to call poetry.
Even now, as I avoid writing the next chapter of my zombie stories, I am writing. That’s odd. Why aren’t I writing the next chapter of my zombie story? It’s not writer’s block – I know exactly what I want to write. But for some reason, Zoya is staying away from me today – the day I decided to get back to her after a couple of weeks off.
Instead I write about not being too successful at writing.
But the reality is that I’m learning as I go – and I’m honing my second craft. Maybe there was a reason for all the rejections. I could be in the place I am meant to be in.
So now I can reflect on the possibility that the travelers are, in fact, contributing to the ESL profession. They must be passionate about it if they go to another country to do it. Therefore, next time I criticize someone’s effort at a career I’d better swallow my derision, mind my own business – and write.
May 21, 2013