How’s That Novel You’re Working On, Vilson?

Jose Vilson Jose, Writing

Brian Hits Stewie With Book

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but I’m working on a book. Not the one that Dr. Barnett Barry and the rest of the Teaching 2030 Team will have out mid-December / early January that you can pre-order now (Amazon Kindle it, please). That one’s great, too. My own. With my name all by itself in the front with the working title of Walking on Water, though I’ll call it something else by the end of this process. I want it to be wild, informative, stirring, inspirational, new, refreshing, passionate, and, maybe, well-received. That’s the aim of most of my writer-friends, and I’ve watched as my writer friends come out with their products to varying degrees of success in these levers.

My turn feels like it’s coming soon.

So far the process has been excruciating. It’s been wrought with personal and professional changes I couldn’t foresee. The first time I put an outline together, it was a mix of experimental poetry and essays, until I read Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities (and I still haven’t gotten through). The second time I put an outline together was about two years after that, and it was after this blog became a talking piece for some of my favorite bloggers and mischievous co-workers, and after my chapter in the aforementioned Teaching2030 book. I was just going to write about my life before becoming a teacher, never mentioning my place of employ.

John Norton, my mentor / editor, promptly replied in kind with a e-mailed swift kick in the butt, wondering why the hell I’d ever consider leaving my teaching experience out of it.

I agreed. I redid it the third time after I realized that the Teaching2030 book was going to be bigger than I could have imagined, and John nodded. Since that time, I’ve been through my worst and most frightening experiences as an educator, and some of my greatest feelings as an educator. Even when I stopped typing here on the blog, I kept upgrading my repertoire, web designing, appearing in different venues, and reading tons of books. I’d get these slices of inspirations for chapters, and think, “Holy cow. This is chapter-worthy.”

It’s far from over, though.

Now, after a couple of these essays, it’s time to really think about that book again. Now, here are the questions I need to answer (with a little help from my friends): How do I address the continued severe (and racial) inequities facing our children today in the midst of a profession constantly seeking validation through muddied language? How do I make sure I remember the audience I’ve built in the non-educator communities and still keep my voice? How do I balance between writing in this space, keeping up the progress I’ve made with all of you reading this while working on brand new material? How willing am I to discuss the things I’ve purposefully left out from this blog?

Where does the line lie between going hard and going home?

I’m still working on all of these pieces, and once I have a good grasp on these questions, I’ll have a good, solid transcript. Until then, I’m “working on that novel.” Like every other writer is. Right.

Jose, who only looks onward, only direction …