Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All Hail the Conquering Hero

This year, I was one of THOSE PEOPLE.
The people who hit 50k before the 25th, and are sitting around waiting for validation to open up.

The people who hit 50k, but yak on about needing to finish the story before the month is over.

I became one of THEM.
I hit 50k Sunday; I had been 1500 words short the night before; I decided not to check my word count and finish the scene I was on, then upload it to see if it was enough to push me through. MS Word gave me 49,961 words.
I wrote some more that day, but I did not update or upload until I was done with the story. I had three sections I wanted to write, and the first two, and the end of the third, are pretty much vry poor writing - a whole lotta telling, no showing. But I have the story down, and the format of this novel will include a lot of telling anyway. I have all the stuff I wanted to say down on paper, which is the important part. I can fill in the details (and, you know, little things like dialogue) later.
I should have the dissertation tweaked and edited by Monday, then I can write to my little heart's content without the guilt of "you should be working on this instead" hanging over my head. I will finally finish SENIOR YEAR, which will complete the "trilogy" (then I can go back and change all the details that need to sync up with the three novels - same three characters, slightly overlapping time periods), and I can focus on editing LIFE CHOICES. And giving it a less corny name.
So excited about regularly attending my writers group again, and having something to read every week! You know, like a writer would!

Now, to catch up on grading. And other stuff.
Coming soon: Ode to the AlphaSmart.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slowing down...

NaNo has been going swimmingly well... until now. Yesterday was okay, but today was crummy. I think I'm hitting the week 2 slump (even though it's week... past that), my story's dumb and it's not going anywhere. Because I'm starting to worry about where my story is going. I don't think it's going much of anywhere. I know where I want it to go, but I don't think it's moving in that direction. Or moving much at all.

Or maybe I just need to get some decent sleep. Two all-nighters in three weekends and late nights during the week do not a coherent brain make.

(*EDIT* There was something meaningful I was going to add, but I cannot for the life of me remember what that was. Huh. Going night-night now.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Change in POV

Twitter emailed me today, letting me know Heart_song was following me. So I followed back. And I found these two blog posts of hers, which I feel need to be shared:

Stop the Perfecution!
I don't want to be a groan up anymore!

I think I've slowly gotten over my perfectionism (I probably have NaNo to thank for that), but I could always use more help in letting it go. Now, the groan-up issue... this one is a bad weed. In early college, I think I was reading Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and read the chapter on negativity, where the guy suggested for every negative thought you have, you have to think of a positive one: if a guy cuts you off on the freeway and you call him a jerk, you have to think of three positive things to say about him. "He drives a fuel-efficient compact car, which is better for the environment;" "he might be late for work;" "his car is a pretty shade of blue." Yes, it can be hard to come up with three, but after a while your brain starts to think more positively (either that, or it learns to not think negatively, because then you have to pay for it with three nice things). I remember doing this and it working, but then I stopped... and went back to being my regular grumpy self.

The groan-up/grin-up thing is the same idea - replace your negative thought with a positive one. This is my challenge to myself. Lately, I've been griping about my job a lot. And it's easy to do, when other people gripe with you. But I like my job. I have fun there, most of the time. I like working with the kids, and I'm lucky that I do not teach a TAKS-tested subject, so admin leaves my department alone most of the time.

At times like this week, when grades are due, it can get hectic and stressful. Kids coming in Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, asking if there's anything they can do to bring their grade up... when the six weeks ends Friday at 3:45. Parents can see their kids' grades online, but not all of them know this or have signed up for it, so I need to call parents and let them know Johnny never turned in that big assignment. Do I have enough grades this six weeks? Do I have enough test grades? Did I call that parent to make sure she knows her daughter is failing because she sleeps in class or, when awake, plays Tetris on her computer? Why is it my resposibility to keep up with these things, when I have 179 students but the parents only have 2-4 kids each? Shouldn't it be the parents' responsibility to keep up with the kids' grades?

I get to work by 7:00 and usually don't leave until after 5:00, most of the time it's closer to 6:00. We do have meetings all the time (2-3 a week, most weeks). This cuts into grading/lesson planning time. There is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do... Freddy and I had a more concrete (ie: we've set a tentative date) conversation about having kids; how's all that going to work, working this much (and still not getting it all done) and having a newborn? Will I be able to handle it? Will things get better next year, after I've taught a full year in this school, in this subject (I have a nasty habit of jumping grade levels or subjects every few years, which is starting over all over again)? Or am I just telling myself it will be easier?

It's easy to drown yourself in a glass of water... especially for me. I like drama. And personal pity parties. And I like to complain about injustices in the world, percieved or otherwise. The science department has to contact 2-3 parents a week, and TeleParent (and automated calling system with pre-recorded messages - student didn't turn in major project; sleeping in class; made an A on a test - doesn't count); the math department has to offer tutoring every day from 4-6 (don't know if they're getting paid extra; our contracts end at 4:00). My department doesn't have to do any of that, but I'll sit and whine about how unfair it is that they are required to do that - which is unfair, on top of everything else. And why doesn't TeleParent count as a way to contact parents about their kids' progress? The district is paying good money for it, we should use it! It's a great system/tool! Uh... but do I use it? It would be very easy to keep up with those parents (or cover my butt about keeping up with parents) if I used it, but I don't. Then, at the end of the six weeks, I complain that the parents should be checking up on grades, I shouldn't have to call each and every parent... when, really, all I have to do is click a few buttons on the computer. I focus on whining about things, instead of looking for solutions or focusing on the things that are going well.

And so we arrive at the end of my rambling. I should read over all this and check it for coherency, but I have to finish grading a few assignments for my level 3 classes, and I would like to hit 40K by tonight (probably won't happen; I'm at 34,356 at the moment). I'm still about a week ahead of schedule, but I want to keep my lead!!! (Have I mentioned how much I love my AlphaSmart? Because I love it lots.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From 52 to 48 / 48 to 52 with love

Great post on Adventures at Home and Abroad.

Or, if you're too lazy to click on that link, just go to this one directly.

In other news, NaNoWriMo is going stunningly well. I'm at the half-way point already, almost a full week ahead of where I'm supposed to be. This has never happened before.

Another thing that has never happened before? Barely a blog post all November. As Marcy pointed out to me last year (when I was still a loyal Xangan), I tended to blog more in November than any other time of year - because I wrote on my laptop, usually at places with Wi-Fi. So... I would hop on over to the blog between scenes, or in the middle of scenes, or after writing one sentence, or after writing no sentences because I needed to whine about the writing not going well.

This year?

This year, I haz an AlphaSmart. It haz no Internetz. Just wordz.

I lurvez it.

And, on a side note, I believe it is more ergonomical than a laptop. It feels more comfortable to write with the AlphaSmart on my lap than to write with a laptop on my lap.

So, Internetz peeps, I'm off to get another thousand words or so in before bedtime. 'Night!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

And, in honor of last night, some celebratory music

(Also, I think my department chair was upset I posted a French video, so I have to counteract with a German one now... :P )

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


In honor of all the Joes involved in this election - the Plumber, Six-Pack, and Biden - I offer you Joe le Taxi:

Hopefully this will inspire me to get back to my YWP French novel...

PS - dude, don't roll your eyes like that! You know you were TOTALLY jammin' out to this in eighth grade.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

And So Begins NaNoWriMo 2008

Last night I went to the Halloween Midnight Write-In, and met my word count goal for today before 6:00 AM.

This would be more impressive if the fact weren't that it took 6 hours to write 2,000 words.

The write-in was fun, but not only are write-ins not the most effective use of writing time (comaraderie, companionship, entertainment - yes; effective use of time - no), sleep-deprived write-ins are even less productive. But I had fun, and no concrete plans for today, so it was all good.

I went to the Coffee Haus this afternoon for another write-in, and FINISHED my dissertation. There are things I need to add, and I need to rework my introduction (now that I know how the rest of it goes), and I'm sure there is much editing and tweaking that needs to take place, but the monster is now a complete monster, a finished piece, and all I need to do is fiddle with details and attachments.

So, to recap: NaNo word count met, dissertation finished and marinating. Productive weekend?


I have not yet started my Young Writers Program novel. You know, the French one. That's the plan for tonight... but instead of starting it, I'm blogging to you nice people.

It's a cool idea and all, but rather intimidating. Even with my good friend WordReference waiting for me in the next window. J'ai peur !

(Also, there is a relatively large amount of grading that needs to get done. Today was not the day, and tomorrow's not looking good either. But we'll worry about that Monday morning.)