Writerly Weekend

Friday: Work was a normal day with the kids, but once they left we celebrated with a surprise baby shower for two of my co-workers; one is a teacher in another classroom and the other is the school’s nurse. After work, it was just me and Dad home so we went out to eat together. We ran into a couple of old friends who we haven’t seen in ages. We didn’t talk long, but it was still nice to see them and know they’re doing well.

Saturday: Kris and I decided that we were going to have a huge writing day! We went to Barnes & Noble per usual and decided to try to stay as long as possible so we could get a lot of writing done. We ended up staying for an extra… it doesn’t seem like much, but we both ended up getting a lot more done than we usually do. I wrote about 7,000 words for my CampNaNoWriMo novel.

To top off the day, we went out with our other sister and friend to see the movie “Home.” I have to say that it was a wonderful movie. Absolutely adorable. And I want my own little pet alien.

Sunday: I went to church. I only had one kid in my Sunday school class. I wasn’t expecting anyone to show up because it was the week after Easter. Instead of doing a lesson, I decided to tidy the room up a bit. I told her she could play and she got really excited and asked to organize the blocks. The blocks take up a few shelves in a corner of the room and it always looks like that corner threw up. So, I told her to go for it. She did a really nice job with it, too. It took her the entire hour and she still didn’t finish.

I didn’t get any writing done on Sunday. After writing 7k on Saturday, I needed a bit of a break from my novel. I did however get some more Sunday school things done because I’m hoping to build a new curriculum for next year as well as start a new blog for it. So, at least I can say I did something productive.

This Week: This week is going to be like any other week. I’m going to try to get my homework done as soon as I can so I can write more of my Camp NaNo novel. I also have to edit the second part of Detective Florence by Wednesday so I can send that into my writing group.

Other than doing homework and keeping up with writing/editing and blogging, not too much is going on this week.

How was your weekend?

Inspiration Explanation

For those of you who read my March: Inspiration Board post two days ago, I wanted to explain further on some of my Pinterest boards and why those things inspire me to be who I am today.

It’s one thing for me to give you a link to my Pinterest and say, “These are all the things I enjoy. I hope you enjoy them, too!”

However, it’s another thing for me to say, “I pinned this because…”

I have a Writing board. I don’t know if you guys know this, but if I didn’t write I would go insane. I need my imaginary friends and I need to go to new places and be in different situations, real or fiction. I also have a Reading board. That inspires me to write. It inspires me to create my own worlds and create my own characters for others to love and enjoy. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand and one inspires me to do the other.

I have a Sunday School board. I am a teacher and the director of my church’s Sunday school. I love teaching to no end and while I don’t particular enjoy going to church (I can’t sit still long enough to get through an hour-long service), I love broadening the horizons of the church’s children. Because I’m just teaching them about God, Jesus, and the Bible, I’m teaching them about life.

Speaking of, I also have a Teaching board. I’ve been teaching preschool for four years and I can’t imagine myself not waking up in the morning to not see those kids every day. I have to ability to teach them a lot and I learn a lot from them, as well.

There are many different TV shows and movies that inspire me as well. Once Upon A Time, The Lord of the RingsHarry PotterPsych, and many more. I have boards for each of those. The characters are amazing and the writers are brilliant.

The same goes for video games; especially The Legend of Zelda and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. I hope to be able to write stories just as well as these game and the movies/shows mentioned above.

I obviously can’t explain all 93 boards to you, but those are the main ones. Those are what make me who I am today and I’m always going to keep growing into someone better. Now you guys know me a little bit better.

I hope you guys are inspired by a lot of things in the world just like I am.

George And Me

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how every author puts a little bit of themselves (or something from their life) into their novels. For me, there are numerous things I throw into my novels that are inspired by true things in life. I won’t spill all my secrets, so for now I’ll just explain my good friend George Florence.

20150115_170826George, my protagonist, is a 30-year-old laid-off detective trying to make a place for himself in the world while doing what he loves: helping people and fighting crime.

Being a police officer was something I wanted to do when I was very young. Even when I knew I wanted to be a teacher and writer, I still had a spot in my mind that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old because of my first grade teacher. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten-years-old because of Kris. Where did this cop thing come from? I have no idea.

When I was little I was always fascinated with that sort of thing. I remember I had a spy kit with handcuffs, a decoder, a notepad, and–the best part–rear-view sunglasses. I was always trying to solve “mysteries” around the house. One time, Kris and I eavesdropped on my mom’s phone call because we were looking for “evidence” in our case, “Mom’s Cooking: Real or Take-Out?” I can’t remember how old we were, but I wish I did.

However despite my fascination, I never pursued it for a plethora of reasons. I’m tiny and have no upper body strength, I can’t stand loud noises, I’m squeamish, and I’m not good under pressure. I just don’t think it wouldn’t have worked out. Of course you never know until you try, but I think when I discovered teaching/writing, my heart changed its mind.

I have written a few novels. Most of them are fantasy-ish with the main characters having super powers. A couple of them are cliche high school drama stories. Each one of those manuscripts (five of them total) are still on the first draft. I congratulate myself for completing a novel, but editing them is just not something I have the motivation to do.

20150115_170900Then I created George. He was a silly character started in a yellow notebook a few years ago at Barnes and Noble when I didn’t know what else to write.

I say he was a “silly” character because that’s entirely what he was. He was originally a detective who did well at his job, but had no common sense whatsoever. He was comical. I didn’t expect to go anywhere with it, but I liked the story. I wrote 32 notebook pages before I stopped and moved onto something else.

Who knew that years later George would rise to the surface and be who he is today?

Unlike my other novels, I completed a first draft easily and then had the urge to edit it right away. I want to continue his story. I want to write more books about him. I want to publish them all. Needless to say, I think I have found my genre for writing.

Funny how it turned out to be a secret passion of mine.

It’s also funny because George was inspired by Phoenix Wright, a character from the Ace Attorney video game series. I played those games and wanted to write my own mysteries and decided to revive George as my main man.

Of course… now that I write this post I realize that George wasn’t originally based off of Phoenix Wright. He was based off of me.

Why I Do What I Do

Quit

This quote doesn’t exactly pertain to what I’m about to say, but it still makes sense. It’s not the quitting part I want to focus on because I have no intention on quitting what I do. It’s the “think about why you started” part.

There are so many situations that I say to myself, “why did I do this to myself?” or “what possessed me to agree to this?” Lately I’ve been asking myself those type of questions a lot because my life has been so busy. I went from a summer of writing all day, relaxing, and getting things done around the house. Now I blink and it’s time for bed and I can’t remember what happened during the day.

Last week I started back to work and that’s when the ball started rolling. Here’s my schedule:

Monday: Work 8-2:30 ; Babysit 3-5 ; Homework
Tuesday: Work 8-2:30 ; Homework
Wednesday: Work 8-2:30 ; Homework
Thursday: Work 8-2:30 ; Babysit 3-6:30 ; Homework
Friday: Work 8-2:30 ; Homework
Saturday: Homework
Sunday: Church ; Homework

I started back to work full-time because I needed to. I needed to get out of the house (even though I would rather stay home all day) and make a little money. I love the place I work at. The kids are great and the teachers are fantastic. I’m really learning a lot.

I’m going to school to get a good education in doing something I love: teaching and writing. Five classes is a lot, yes, but I’ve done it before. The homework isn’t really a lot, but a few of the assignments are time consuming. Therefore, it’s hard to be motivated to do it. Plus, once you start you can’t stop so I need to make sure I have enough time to complete the task.

I hated Sunday school when I was a kid, but I’ve always wanted to be a Sunday school teacher. Don’t ask me why… I guess it’s just more of the “teaching” aspect. This year I’m not only teaching a class, but I’m the director of the program as well. That’s a step up from what I originally wanted, but I’m proud to do it and excited to give it a shot.

I babysit because I love the kids. I’ve been babysitting for that family for five years now. It’s been amazing watching them grow up and being an “older sister” to them. They look up to me so I want to be the best example I can be.

In addition to school, work, babysitting, and sunday school, I have to think about my sister’s wedding (a month and two days), the upcoming bachelorette party, and just getting other things done in general like… you know, blogging? I haven’t been able to post in a week or two.

It’s tiring, but I enjoy it. I like to keep myself busy. So why am I complaining, “why did I do this to myself?”

I haven’t had the time to write. I did well last week writing for an hour every morning, but then I was too tired after work (and then babysitting) to do any homework. I got really behind on my school work last week and crammed it all in Friday night since that was my first free night all week. I would come home and relax saying, “I got my writing done this morning so I’m all set for today” completely forgetting about homework.

Unfortunately, at this point in my life, homework has to be priority over writing.

So I think I’m going to try to get some homework done in the morning. However, I still haven’t been writing. I think I’m going to have to keep playing around with different routines until I can fit everything into one day.

If I could add more hours to the day, I would. In the meantime, I have to make do with what I have and everything will work out in the end.

I love everything I do even if it’s hard to fit it all in one day. That’s why I started.

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.