Reality Checks In

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Yesterday we arrived home around 1:30 in the afternoon. It was good timing. But, when I say “home” I mean my cousins’ house. Kris and I waited there for two hours for our uncle to pick us home on his way home from work to bring us home. After traffic we didn’t get back to our own home until about 4:30. It was a long day and I was tired, needless to say.

When we walked into the house we were greeted warmly by our mother and father and our dog Chip was ecstatic. Hunter pretended he didn’t care, but he kept going through our luggage and meowing at us. He’s been following me around this morning. Raph came right out of her box house when she saw me, which made me feel good. Mikey… well, he’s a fish. He came to the front of his tank, but he was most likely just swimming or looking for food.

After discussing the trip with my parents and showing them photos and souvenirs we bought them, I sat on the couch for a few hours before turning in early. I slept well, but I had to get up early this morning because I have to babysit soon. Why I agreed to babysit the day after my Disney vacation is beyond me. Kris was smart and took today off from work pretending she was just getting home today. I should have done that.

So I woke up at about 7:30 this morning. I rolled out of bed trying not to squish Chip in the process and then proceeded to make a small tent with my blankets. When Chip has the bed to herself, she likes to be under the covers. So, when I have to ditch her in the morning I try to make her a fort of some kind. Sometimes she stays, sometimes she doesn’t. It’s been over an hour now and she’s still sleeping under there.

I went down to the kitchen, made myself a cup of coffee, took out a pea from the freezer to feed Mikey (he got sick a few weeks ago so I have to feed him peas now), went into my office, opened the blinds and one of the windows, turned on my computer, fed Mikey, woke Raph up and took her out of her tank, and then I sat down at my computer to blog, surf the web, sip at my coffee, etc.

While waiting for my computer to finish loading, I felt as though I had never left. The routine I just described is the same thing I do every single morning. It’s going to continue to be that way because work starts in a week and a half. The only difference will be that I’ll be waking up about an hour earlier to do it all.

School starts a week from today, work starts a week from Monday, and Sunday school starts on a Sunday in September (I’m the director now and I have no idea when the first day is going to be… great, huh?). Not to mention I have to babysit today, tomorrow, and Friday. My cousins start back to school a week from Thursday and I have to get them ready because I have to drive one of them on my way to work. I also have to find time to write in all of this, as well.

I write better in the morning, but I have to be at work by eight. I have to drive my cousin to school which means I have to leave a little earlier than usual. If I want to write in the morning then I’m going to have to wake up at four in which case I would have to go to bed at about seven or eight. I’ll probably end up writing at night or in the afternoon after work, but then I’ll be tired from the day and then when am I going to get my homework done?

Listen to me ramble on. It truly is like I never left. I’m immediately back to my old routine that has never changed and I’m back to my old ways of thinking… or worrying.

One thing I failed to mention was the fact that I’m sipping my coffee out of the brand new mug I bought myself in Disney. It has the picture of Peter Pan on it and it says “Never grow up.” This reminds me that I did in fact go on vacation and that it wasn’t just a dream. I did get my break from reality, even though it doesn’t seem like it. My break lasted 11 days (granted four were spent in the car…) and through that my biggest and only concern was that I wanted to meet Peter Pan. And I did.

So, yes I do have a lot on my plate. I have a lot to think about and to worry about (even though I worry over nothing most of the time). The summer will be officially over sooner rather than later. It’s sad, but it was the same amount of time I get every summer. It just went by too fast, which is always how it goes.

I turn 21 in less than a week, so unfortunately for Peter Pan (and myself), I’m growing up. I never wanted to grow up (and I still don’t), but age is but a number and considering the fact that I cried after I met Peter Pan, I’m going to say I’m still a kid at heart and that is one thing I hope will never change.

I hate homework, but I’m excited for my classes this upcoming semester. Depending on the professors, I should have a good experience with school this time around. I’m starting a new job in a place I love surrounded by awesome people. While the kids can drive me nuts, they’re great as well and I enjoy their company. Directing the Sunday school will be a challenge, but it’s something I always wanted to do ever since I myself was in Sunday school. I may not be ready, but I’m willing to get through it. I’ll be writing every moment I can now that I told myself what I wanted to accomplish with my writing for the next few months.

So, I guess if it’s something you love and you want it, growing up isn’t all that bad. But, as I stated earlier, my mentality is growing up, but not my heart. I guess you really can have the best of both worlds.

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A Degree In…What?

Another semester for my English degree has ended. I’ve had about a week of freedom so far and I’m all ready counting down the days until I (unfortunately) have to start up again.

I can’t complain. I do like my classes and (most) of my professors, but that doesn’t mean I want my schooling to last forever. Also, like most people, I’m sick of the homework.

Now I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learned anything; I have. Some information is more useful than others, but there are a few things here and there that stick with me and I’m going to explain one thing that I’ve learned this past summer.

I took a class called Theories of Rhetoric and Composition. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but once I started the class I realized it was mostly about teaching writing. Okay, I thought to myself, I can do this. I mean, I’m a teacher; I love to teach. Granted, the most English I teach is the ABCs to preschoolers.

My textbook, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory, is a series of articles written by scholars and writers discussing the English language, writing in general, and teaching/learning to write.

Textbook

We read almost the entire book during the ten-week class. Some articles I got into, others I didn’t care for, and some I didn’t understand what they were talking about at all. Yet, there are 18 articles we didn’t read and I plan on reading them in my own time anyway. It’s still an interesting book, nonetheless.

However, do you want to know the number one thing I learned from this textbook and the class as a whole? The English language is the hardest, most complex thing in the universe.

Every article in that book is written by a different person, but every article we read quoted at least one or more of the other articles in the book. Why did they quote each other? Because each author was trying to prove the other one was wrong.

Should grammar be taught in the classroom? Some thought yes, others thought it was (or should be) common sense and only be taught to those learning English as a second language. What age should grammar be learned? The ages varied; some said as early as possible, others said college. How should teachers teach grammar? Tests, worksheets, memorizing, etc. There were so many different options.

That was just a few articles arguing about grammar alone. There were so many other “issues” they touched upon about writing, reading, and even speaking English.

I think that was part of the reason why I had such a hard time trying to understand some of the articles. I read one thinking, Yeah, that makes sense. Then the next article I read I would think, Well, that makes sense as well. I wasn’t too sure what to believe.

Then it dawned on me: If these “professionals” don’t know how to teach English, then what is going on in the minds of my professors? I have all ready had two professors give me mixed signals. One professor said when I cite in-text I should write, “(Author’s last name, page number)” and the following semester my professor took off points and said it should be, “(Author’s last name page number).” Do you see the difference?

Yes, one professor said I should use a comma (and my textbook told me to as well) while the other professor told me not to. I mentioned this to the professor who “corrected” me asking which was actually the “correct” way to cite and she never got back to me. So, I have decided to do whatever the professor wants for the sake of a good grade, but the bottom line is…what am I truly learning?

Keep in mind these two professors were not my professor for my Theories of Rhetoric and Composition class. So, when reading this textbook it gave me great insight on how I’m spending so much money, time, and effort for a degree in…what, exactly?

So many people assume I want to teach English because I have an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and now going for my Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. The main reason I did this is because I want to teach preschool if publishing novels doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s always been in the back of my mind to teach English in case I ever want to stop or take a break from chasing three-and-four-year-olds around all day.

Of course, after reading these articles, I question whether I would ever want to teach English or a creative writing course. I believe teaching is one of the most difficult occupations out there (and seriously underpaid). A teacher prepares a child for the future thus creating all the doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc. Teaching should be taken seriously and I have run into many teachers and professors who don’t take it nearly as serious as they should.

Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. What might work for one child might not work for another. Therefore, it’s the teacher’s job to accommodate; create new, interesting ways to get the child to learn and understand while enjoying it. I realized that all the suggestions in the articles in my textbook would all work…they just might not work for everyone.

To know that my professors aren’t on the same page and there is no true way to teach and learn the English language as well as writing…then who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? The citing is a prime example…I got points taken off an assignment for listening to a teacher; a colleague of my (at the time) current professor.

It’s annoying, but at the same time, I feel proud to be writing. I’m working in a difficult field and even though I don’t have any novels published yet, I’m still plugging away at it. I research and I learn from other writers as well as myself. I do learn things from my classes, I’m not trying to say school is useless or anything, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that writing is most definitely hands-on.

I write because I love it and since I love it so much, I’m willing to keep writing and teaching myself to get better at it. That is one thing a course and a textbook cannot teach me.

What is Success?

Success

School has officially ended for the semester and one thing we learned has been sticking with me, so I thought I would talk about it. So this won’t be like my usual posts, but I hope you’ll stick around to read it, anyway.

In one of my classes this past semester we read a short story called Sur by Ursula K. Le Guin. I won’t describe it too much in case any of you would like to look it up, but it’s about a group of women travelling to Antarctica and keeping it a secret. One of my classmates posted on the discussion board asking about the “achievement” in the story. A few of my classmates were debating on whether or not the expedition to Antarctica could exactly be called an achievement. This is simply because the women in the story kept it a secret. They didn’t share their achievement; therefore no one knows about the achievement. How can you do something as great as travel to Antarctica and never share the news?

I commented on the thread stating that achievement is measured by your own personal goal and your perspective on it. For example, I believe travelling to Antarctica is a huge achievement; especially since it was their first time doing so. Just because the group of females did not share their journey with their friends, family, and the press, it doesn’t mean they weren’t successful. To put it simply, they wanted to travel to Antarctica and they did. Wouldn’t you call that an achievement?

I associate the word “achievement” with “success” because they’re both about reaching a goal. According to Dictionary.com, this is one definition of success: “the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.” I can only half agree with this. The reason I agree with it is because of the “position” part. I used to want to be the director of the preschool I worked for. If I had worked my way up to that position then I would have felt successful because it was something I wanted to do and I would have worked hard to get there.

The reason I disagree with that definition is because of the “wealth” part. Money does not buy happiness even though our paychecks always make us smile. However, once the bills start rolling in, our smile fades and we’re back to square one. If your goal was to make it to the top of your career with a nice pay raise, then I could call that successful if that was something you really wanted. If it was a job you truly enjoyed and you weren’t doing it just to get rich off of it; even though the money would be a plus.

Another reason I disagree with it is putting the story into perspective. Sur is a work of fiction, yes, but no where in the story did the group of women attain wealth, position, or any honors. They kept their goal a secret from the world. They deemed themselves successful because they had achieved something they wanted to do.

Another definition of success by Dictionary.com is: “the accomplishment of one’s goals.” I have to say that I like this definition a whole lot better. However, what exactly is a “goal?” Again, it depends on your own perspective and what you want. My big goal is to become a full-time writer. Yet, there are many little goals along the way.

When I write my standard 2,000 words in one day, I consider that an accomplishment for that one day. When I finish a novel, I consider that to be an achievement. I’ve never completely finished editing a novel enough to throw it at a publisher, but I’m sure when I do that will be successful in itself and I’m sure I will be very happy with it. When I get a novel published for the first time, I will be successful. Will I be a full-time writer after publishing that one novel? No, probably not. However, I will write more and the more I write the better I will become. I will come up with more ideas and become more creative. Eventually I’ll come up with a novel good enough to allow me to stay home all day and do what I love and do best: write.

It won’t matter what position I’m in if I still have a day job and it won’t matter how much money I’ll be bringing in. My goal is to share inspirational characters, interactive plots, and open up a brand new creative world for all my readers to love and enjoy.

And when that day comes, I will be successful.

Three Squares

I finished another square for the Reading Bingo! I actually finished it over a week ago, but completely forgot about it until now.

I, Robot

I read I, Robot by Isaac Asimov for the square that says: “A book that became a movie.” I had to read this book for my science fiction & fantasy class this semester. Honestly, it’s not a book that I would pick off the shelf and read because I wanted to. I have seen the movie plenty of times and I like the movie, but I never thought about writing the book. Maybe it’s because Will Smith isn’t in the book…

Anyway, it was nothing like the movie. Or, the movie is nothing like the book, I should say. Then I realized this is a series, but I don’t think I’m going to continue reading it. The book was good, but it’s not something I would probably read again.

Right now I’m reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin for the Reading Bingo (and for school as well). You can keep track of my progress through my GoodReads profile if that’s what your heart desires.

On that note, I’ve been doing pretty well this month. I’ve been writing 1,000 words a day, but not on any novels. I’ve been doing prompts and such. I don’t want to start anything new with Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in April. I’ve also been editing at least one chapter a day on Hunter.

Yes, just one chapter. It’s takes me a long time to get through five pages let along a 20-page chapter…editing bites, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Inspiration Station

“You may not want to be a writer and that’s fine. But by the end of this class, you are going to know exactly what a writer does and all the blood, sweat, and tears that get mixed in with the ink.” –Athena Beech

 

Today was a rough day. Kris was home all day because she’s doing the over-night at her work tonight. I also had to go to work because the other teacher and I have been stripping the classrooms. We finished today, thank God. I can’t stand seeing the classrooms so bare. Anyway, because of those two factors I was not able to start writing early in the morning like I have been and with Kris there all I want to do is play video games with her. She got Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U for Christmas and we just started playing it the other day. It’s a great game and I bother her to play it at any moment I get.

So, I came home from work and said, “Wanna play Sonic?!” Kris said something to me that I regret mentioning to her…you see, the other day I wanted to do absolutely nothing. I had a cup of coffee in hand and all I wanted to do was put my feet up and watch Psych. I have been watching that a lot lately, I don’t know why. But season eight starts tomorrow night!

Even though I wanted to do everything humanly possible that did not involve me writing my 5,000 word count, I repeated to myself: Work first, play later. I told Kris this. So, what do you think she said when I asked her to play Sonic? Yes, “Work first, play later.” Thus, we wrote.

Kris wrote a little and then decided to edit her novel (yay!) while I continued to write in order to hit my 5,000 daily word goal. Since I finished Detective Florence I had to write something else. I looked at my To Do List and looked at all the novels from there. I couldn’t choose which one to write, so Kris put them in a randomizer thing on the internet and it told me to write Hunter & Comet.

Well, I wrote an even 2,000 words for that. However, I wasn’t in the mood to write it so I decided to stop because it was turning out kind of crappy…even for the first draft.

I decided to write Inspiration Station instead. This was a story idea I came up with on a whim one night (pretty recently) when I wasn’t sure what to write. At the time I still wasn’t in the mood to finish Detective Florence, I had no idea what to write so I decided to write about writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve explained this novel before, but I’m going to explain it again…

Inspiration Station is about a writer, Athena Beech, who is not yet published because she’s stuck on her writing. As her day job she starts her first semester teaching a creative writing course at a local community college. She has a class full of interesting students. Some are taking the class because they want to write for a living and others are taking it because they believe it to be an “easy A.” Athena takes this as a challenge and comes up with the “Inspiration Station” which is basically a bunch of writing prompts. She hopes to give inspiration to all her students as well as herself.

So, as you probably figured out, the quote up top is from the main character, the teacher, in the story. She said to her class right as they were being dismissed because most of them aren’t too into the class at the moment.

I’m having fun with it. As a teacher, I think it’s fun to write lesson plans and since I’m not a teacher anymore I don’t write lesson plans anymore. So, yes, I am writing actual lesson plans for Athena’s classes. They’re not fully thought-out, mostly just an outline to help me plan the novel, but it’s a lot of fun. I think some of that stuff would be cool to do in a real classroom.

I wrote 3,358 words for the story. Adding that to the 2,000 I wrote for Hunter & Comet, I have 5,358 for today. This also leaves me at 6,500-something total for Inspiration Station so far. I already had about 3,300-something words already written for the story.

I think Inspiration Station is going to be the next novel I complete. I think it’s going to be a good one. I have high hopes for it, anyway.