I don’t remember where I got the quip that is the theme for today’s I Swear Crossword. It’s hardly original. The gist of it is that if you power down for a while, you’ll almost always power back up. It’s a comforting thought. Or is it?
I’m writing this column just before fall semester starts at the law school where I’ve taught a seminar for thirteen years. Toward the end that I might teach it a tad better this semester than last, I attended a three-hour workshop Friday afternoon. Taught by the law school dean, who has written books on education methods.
In this workshop I learned some techniques that I’m anxious to try out. Now for the matter of preparing for Class 1. Which means, among other things, reading for the tenth or twelfth time items that I’ve been reading for years already. And tweaking the slide show I created ten years ago.
I gotta boot up, again—brush aside self-doubt, muster up the confidence and enthusiasm that lurks within, and get myself ready to lead. Human booting up is more than sticking prongs into an outlet. I must be willing to dig in and work. Again.
I was asked recently to write a short piece for publication in The Rotarian, the official magazine of the service club that shares its title. In January there’ll be a feature with the theme “What It’s Like.” The editor told me that she’d like to have something with a light and lively tone, as the stories that will be printed otherwise range from intense to quotidian. She suggested “what it’s like to get a crossword in the New York Times, … or something along those lines.”
My ego swelled up, and I was tempted to think how easy this should be. After all, I write light and lively short pieces every week. Fortunately, the other voice in my brain spoke up: “Better ask a few questions. What exactly is being requested? This is something I’ve not written about in a long time. If I’m to boot up on it, I want to know the guidelines.
Replying to my inquiry, the editor wrote that she wants readers “to really put themselves in your shoes, to feel what it was like to be you in that moment. [T]hink about what exactly you are describing what it’s like to do. …Whatever it is, talk about the different aspects of that experience. [T]he details of what you are thinking and why you do what you do are what end up being the most interesting.”
She suggested I start “by talking about when you sit down to do a crossword puzzle, what do you do? Pull out a legal pad and jot down ideas? Mull over a theme you’ve been thinking of? Play around with some fun clues that can play off each other? Decide how difficult you are going to make this? Have a snack?”
I agreed to do it. Stay tuned. Maybe I can share the results in due course.
Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.