Today was the last Advanced Novel writing course at GippsTAFE so I said goodbye to students I have taught for three and, in one case, four years. I find it almost impossible to believe they won't front up next year.
I will miss them. They are part of my writing community.
What has been wonderful about GippsTAFE is the continuity which builds that sense of community. Before I went to Gipps, I was a kind of roaming teaching. I did a lot of kamikaze teaching - in schools, at neighbourhood houses, short courses for the Victorian Writer's Centre and the Council of Adult Education.
When Alasdair was about eight-ish months old, I got a job at a neighbourhood house which lasted until we left that particular neighbourhood. In the meantime I got pregnant with the girlchild and gave birth to her. I would take the girlchild up there - she was three weeks old at first, maybe four, but not much older than that, still had that newborn scrunchiness - and we'd just pass her around and I'd teach and then call a break and breastfeed. Then back to passing around. It wasn't just that we needed the money (which we most certainly did!) but also the students held me there.
Gipps has been like that.
What better place to learn to be a permanent (as opposed to roaming) teacher?
It has been an honour to see your novels hatch, grow and change and watch your writing develop authority and see your reading broaden and diversify. And it's been an enormous pleasure to witness the creation of a community bound together by common interests and goals in a world where we often seem shortchanged of the very things which could be instruments of nuturing change.
I sit here writing this and in front of me is the paperweight these students gave me, turquoise blue and ice - a cool place on my desk - and on the lefthand side is the Journal which I think will be the fantasy journal. The first one, I say with optimism, thinking that a fantasy book might well spread to two - or even three. I've been thinking it must be time to get a Bridhyia's Gifts journal and here it is!
So there is a journal and a paperweight to hold down my scribblings on fine days on the deck (or just to admire because it is mysterious and icey) - but mostly there's another branch of my family out there, my writing family.