New year, new world, new life

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Three weeks ago, I posted about some upcoming changes. Well, I can finally say more: I stepped down as the Executive Director of The Writing Faculty.

As a co-founder, this was a huge decision, and my partners and I discussed it at length. They have two other companies and will continue running TWF, and I’m staying on as a tutor. But I am stepping away from day-to-day management.

Running a US-based company from Europe has been challenging to say the least, given the six-hour difference to the East Coast and the normal demands of start-up life. My moving to Switzerland was never part of the company’s plan, but less than a year in, it happened, and we decided to try it out and see if we could make it work. I’d have a shifted schedule here so that I’d overlap with the US. The plan was for me to work from 12 pm – 8 pm every day, but a start-up can’t succeed on 40 hrs/week. Most nights I’d work until 11 pm or midnight plus at least one weekend day, and I’d still miss West Coast families because of the nine-hour difference to them. Continuing this indefinitely didn’t make sense for anyone — families, staff, or me.

I’ve been feeling half in two worlds, not fully in either, and guilty about both. The time difference meant I was harder to reach, and yet my work hours meant I would miss local events — dinners, shows, etc. When I was in London, I realized that was the first trip I’d taken in Europe except for a 3-day trip to Milan for a wedding. I spent one of the travel days working from the apartment we’d rented in London. Travel meant abandoning the company; not traveling meant wasting one of the greatest opportunities of living abroad.

So, a lot of soul-searching later, I’m now tutoring part-time, writing full-time, and making the most of this European adventure. The transition is almost complete (the remaining few items should be finished today!).

It’s hard to let go of something after pouring so much time and care and energy into it. But who knows where we’ll live in two years, let alone in five? Holding on can be worse than letting go.

Now, I’m trying to change my mental space and speed. Over the weekend, I dove into my long-neglected work-in-progress. But I’m not letting myself rush through this revision, rather I’m taking time to poke and prod to test for weak points, where I’ve missed opportunities or pulled back when I should have pushed forward.

I’ve been reading chapters from craft books and letting them sit, as well, realizing how much more I know this time around, so the books are reminders of basics, quick references rather than instructions to study and learn. The last time I only wrote and tutored was in poetry school, and I learned so much that year, I still sometimes feel that I haven’t had time to unpack everything that was crammed into my head.

When I was at VCFA, I was also a founding faculty member at a charter school and then worked full time. I directed a tutoring company, co-directed NESCBWI conferences, started my own company, and then moved overseas. I know how to cram as much as possible into tiny amounts of space and time. I’m trying to learn the opposite now.

It’s spring here at last — along with summer, the most gorgeous time in Switzerland. I cut off several inches of hair and filed the papers and documents I’ll no longer need. Spring produce is in stock, and A and I spent several hours on Saturday shopping for our hard to find ingredients, like ancho chilies and wanton wrappers. Then yesterday I baked for the first time in weeks — Guinness molasses bread and giant, soft pretzels.

Today is the Bengali New Year — a time for new beginnings — a new life in a new world.

Several lifetimes ago, theatre, and more specifically musical theatre, was a fundamental part of my life. I was in a show called Songs for a New World, and I’ve had the opening song stuck in my head since yesterday.

A new world calls across the ocean
A new world calls across the sky
A new world whispers in the shadows
Time to fly, time to fly

…And you’re suddenly a stranger
In some completely different land
And you thought you knew
But you didn’t have a clue
That the surface sometimes cracks
To reveal the tracks
To a new world

Happy New Year!

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