The thing with writing is, you never really know the final form until you set your work down in actual words. For myself, the process begins long before I lay my hands on the keyboard, imagining in my mind what it is I am going to write. Often this leads to moments when I stare vacantly into space, my fingers twitching against invisible keys. My wife, who notices these things, at least knows that I am writing in my head. And yet, for all this extended preparation, the outcome can be vastly different from what I originally envisioned. Such is the way of art.
This little story is from my time as assistant dean, but it’s been three years, so I guess it’s fine to tell it now.
An officer of the student body approached me with a letter they had drafted. They were raising the issue of teachers who were requiring their classes to purchase textbooks that they themselves had written. I read through and handed it back to her.
“No,” I said.
“Because it doesn’t quite cover enough of what’s going on. Give me an hour, and I’ll show you what you can really bring up. If you like it, you can make it the official student body position.”
What follows is my version of their complaint (apologies if it’s a little long) —
I stumbled into university teaching back in 2008. I was three years out of my last corporate job, a year out of managing the pharmacy in Dumaguete, back in Davao bouncing around with no real plan, and I finagled a part time gig at Ateneo which a year later became full time, master’s degree included.
I stumbled out of university teaching back in 2015. If I trace it back to its proximate cause, I stronglyu suspect it was when they asked me to become OIC assistant dean of computer studies the summer prior. Silly me, I accepted.
If it hadn’t been for that year-long stint as OIC assistant dean, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take a paid semester off. One doesn’t equate to the other, of course, and I certainly never planned it that way. But this is how it happened: