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.

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Mind Blown

Ready To Be Confused…?

 

First things first: I lost count of my word count. Seriously, I thought I was doing really well with the word count and keeping up with it, but I just calculated everything out and I was about 4,000 words off. The word count on here was higher than what my calculator said. So I decided to change it. I’m adding the words from Take Over, Saving Each Other, Seeing Things, and so far of The Blank Page because that’s really all I have written for 2013. So the word count is a little less, but oh well. I think I might have gotten confused because of the NaNo count, as well.

That’s not what I meant by the confusion, though. Although I am pretty confused about the word count, but whatever. What I was going to mention about being confused is the fact that I am trying to write four books at one time right now. Yes.

I have been trying to stick with one book at a time to make it easier on myself and to force myself to be more organized. So far, it’s been working. The only thing is that I have Seeing Things started, but I plan on finishing that as soon as I finish The Blank Page.

Speaking of the The Blank Page…you know how that novel is about three writers getting together once a week to write their own novels? Well, three novels plus The Blank Page, equals four novels. There you have it. I am going to be writing four novels at once.

When I first started writing The Blank Page (before my flash drive died) I thought about writing their novels along with the real one because I thought it would help me keep track of their progress, figure out their own writing styles and habits, and I could get their plots straightened out. I never did, though. I don’t know why and I got confused a lot and there were a lot of holes in The Blank Page…holes that my characters found and jumped through as I tried to continue on with the novel. So not only did I have no idea what was going on, but they decided to play hide-and-seek on me…and I lost.

So I decided to write each novel as I write The Blank Page. It’s going to be tough, but I think I will be able to get through it. I hope I can, anyway. It’s tough right now because I gave each of them their own way of thinking on how to write a novel. For example…

Adair is writing fantasy. She doesn’t know the title of her novel and she doesn’t think. She just writes whatever comes to her mind because to her, editing is when the real writing begins so the first draft is going to be crap no matter how well she writes it. She just wants to get the editing process sooner rather than later. Her novel is single-spaced, but she still has more pages than the boys because she types a lot faster.

Justin is writing a young adult drama and he is the complete opposite of Adair. He knows the title and he thinks a lot. He has a notebook filled with notes and, outlining for this novel. He knows the exact beginning, middle, and end to his novel to make sure that he doesn’t get stuck behind writer’s block. He hates editing, which is another reason as to why he plans it all out. He also types really slowly to try not to make too many mistakes to make editing easier, as well. His novel is double-spaced “as it should be.”

Dominic, in a way, is a mix of Adair and Justin. He came in not even knowing the genre. Apparently, he has written mystery, suspense, and thrillers before, so he decided to write a mystery after Adair told him to. His is double-spaced, but still has the least amount of pages. He doesn’t plan, as he didn’t even know the genre, but he hates editing. He has no idea what the title is and he has no idea where the plot is going to end up. He doesn’t even really have a plot at the moment.

So as you can tell, it’s a little tough because I have to write two novels entirely from scratch and I have to plan out Justin’s novel. Well, I don’t have to, but I want to. It’ll be a good exercise to step into my characters’ shoes and get to know them a little more. I’m just a little afraid of what I might find.

 

2013: 119,319/350,000 Words Written
2013: 1,749/18,250 Pages Read