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comment by _refugee_

Well, I really appreciate your response. Teaching was a career I thought I wanted to go into for a long time, until I started reading about the state of higher education and the pitfalls of such a career. Now I have decided I shall just get famous first, so they shall have to pay me a living wage. ;) Anyway I find teaching fascinating and I admire people like you. Also, I'm sorry for what you (probably) have to go through on a day-to-day basis; parents, Common Core standards, mandatory overtime, and the general frustrations of the system. This assuming you teach in a public US school, of course.

    Or at least, I'm not sure how learning can continue if one is devoid of mentors, role-models, or even a competitor.

Ah. I'm glad you say this. I ask because I'm a student of poetry and writing and, after college, I've largely found myself un-menteed. However, there are plenty of role models and competitors out there for me! I read plenty and try to stay on top of my field. It's really just a lack of frequent, detailed feedback that I lack - I have my "guru," who is an active poet I admire greatly and whose advice I trust, but what with the Real World, her grandson, the classes she teaches, the readings and writing she does - I don't seek or receive her feedback very often. It's not to the same level of my college critiques. I also have some friends I have developed or stayed in contact with and we workshop from time-to-time, but it is not super frequent.

I try to do different things to challenge myself and force myself to attempt new techniques or styles. I read as much as I can and if I like what I read I'll echo it, imitate it, in order to get a handle on the style.

Poetry is not as delineated as math, I think, where you can say "Yes this is algebra, and the next step is pre-calc, and the next is calc, and we know all the steps we need to take to get you from a to b." It seems to be like there is a more clear progression in math or science or even in the study of literature (as opposed to the creation of it). You must learn the quadratic formula before sin, cos, tan, which you must learn before cosecant, secant, and cotangent, and so on.

For me it is harder to recognize what steps I should take next because, you know, it's not math or science, there isn't necessarily a clear progression and a lot of it can be based off of personal taste or style. Sometimes it really feels like "sifting through the madness for the word, the line, the way" (Bukowski) like a blind person. Plus I am faced with the dilemma of "no right answer;" poetry can be very subjective. Am I really getting better? Or am I egotistical and self-important?

Anyway, sorry about my ramblings. I really appreciated your answer. It made me feel better. I don't write in a vacuum. I just don't have a direct teacher anymore.