It’s back-to-school time in Maryland. Neighborhoods got quieter, roads got busier, and kids are back to the grind. I am the right age to appreciate this blog post, Back to School: The 70s vs. Today, A Lot has Changed, because I lived that back-to-school life in the 70s. I think I had the outfit, bottom left, with the bell bottoms and sweater vest. As I recall, the turtle neck was actually a body suit that snapped together at the bottom. I’m living it on the other end now as I still have one in school – a 10th grader. I can relate to the search for the right lunch foods but for my son, a runner, the key is high protein foods that can survive in a hot locker. It’s not easy to get 100 grams of protein crammed into the diet of a 15-year-old. Supplies are easier than the blogger has it because at his school, it’s just spiral notebooks, pens/pencils, and his smart phone. The $100 graphing calculator is now a $5 app and the Spanish translation dictionary is a free one. My husband is also back to school in front of a pack of undergraduate and graduate education majors so back-to-school shopping consisted of refreshing his stock of shirts and ties.
It’s back to school for me, too. I’m taking two classes this fall. The first is Ancient World: Intellectual and Cultural Heritage Before 1500 which will likely extend my hero’s journey study because we will be reading The Iliad, The Tempest, The Inferno, and The Aeneid. While not all of these are exactly monomyths, each has at least one character who is on a journey of discovery. The other class is Cold War and Pop Culture. We don’t have a text for this but, like the blog post, I’m the right age for this, too, as I majored in political science in the 1980s thereby spending four years studying the cold war, the global nature of the arms race, learning Russian, and reading Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October (1984) and Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park (1981) among others.
So what does this have to do with my writing? Not much because I probably won’t have a lot of time for it. I’m hoping to make time to write some on my current WIP, plot with my daughter on the new adult rom-com, and plot my hero’s journey story that I plan to write for my final project in the spring. But back-to-school should do two things for my writing. One is to get my brain going again after being in summer-break mentality. The second is to tap my creativity by learning new and different things from the ancient and modern worlds than can transfer to my characters’ lives. Even if you don’t have to deal with back to school stuff, what can you do to refresh your writing? Or maybe it’s time to go back and pull out some old stuff.