Sunday, May 25, 2008

Looking back . . . following the wandering muse

Just went through last year's post . . . wanted to see what I'd been doing for a year. It's enlightening and frightening to see how much time has actually elasped, and then to fret about why I didn't get more accomplished.

That whole GOTTA-SET-GOALS-THING is looming big on my horizon.

It's hard to believe that this past month we traveled south to Texas A & M again to retrieve my oldest from college. Mind-boggling to believe I now have one that's completed her sophomore year at a major university, one headed to his last year in high school, and my baby getting ready to start high school. Okay, enough about getting old -- I have the daily reminders every time my skin sags a little more.

So, what has changed in a year?

I spent 103 days in a classroom teaching this year. At the elementary level (the only grades I'll touch because I'm still bigger than they are) it really is about teaching. There is no such thing as a day-off at this level. If I don't have the rugrats busy and on task, then there is bedlam. Considering I've lost enough of my sanity at this point, I can't afford to give away any more while the inmates take over the asylum. That requires real teaching to keep students focused. I feel more in control inside the classroom now. I don't panic if there's an empty spot in the lesson plan, or what's been left is new material for the students, etc. Overall, it's been both easier and harder to teach this year because I knew more.

Wait, that sounds remarkably like writing, doesn't it?

The more I learn about the writing process the more difficult it becomes. Oops, now there are more rules to follow to make sure the research is accurate and factual; that all the writing is grammatically correct; that I've employed smooth transitions and great hooks; that I've developed character arcs and well-crafted plot lines.

FLIP-SIDE

The more I learn about writing, the easier it is to do all those things. Occasionally, it's even outrageously fun.

Recently an acquaintance revealed her secret ambition was to write. She told me partly because I'm a writer, also because I'm not involved in her life, which makes that whole 'people will tell strangers the craziest things' really true. I'd been moaning about how hard the writing process can be. This acquaintance called me on it. The conversation made me reflect. Would I have started writing if I'd known how hard it would be? Honestly, who knows.

There's a reason the road in front of us is always curved. As humans, if we saw all the obstacles in our way -- chances are we'd stand still and never leave the starting line. Equally true, if we saw all the joys -- we'd feel overwhelmed or unworthy of such pure pleasure.

Is hind sight really 20-20? Maybe, and again maybe it's just our own skewed perception that makes the past seem so clear. As to the future my advice is simple: chunk the glasses and stop trying to squint to see what comes around the next bend. You'll never be fully prepared for all the hurdles no matter how much advance warning you have. Besides a bumpy ride can be fun. Just pretend it's a roller coaster -- hang on, scream when necessary, and laugh all the way through.

Maybe that's not a real goal, but it certainly seems like a good way to deal with one.

So, what's happened for you this year?

Come on by the porch anytime.
~Sandra

4 comments:

Pam said...

What a wonderful post! I loved your comment about writing being outrageously fun, but when you said pretend it's a roller coaster, I almost gave a little girl-squeal and scared the DH. I've been thinking of my most recent book especially like a roller coaster so to hear another writer refer to the process that way was worth a scream and a laugh.

I like your porch--next time I'll bring the tea.

L.A. Mitchell said...

S,
I am such a left-brained planner, it's nice to have people nearby who remind me to shake control loose every now and then. Your advice is always so seasoned and solid. Aren't those famous advice columnists about to kick it? Would be a great gig for you on the side. Loved this post :)

Sherry Davis said...

Um... did a place sub-south just get a little cooler?(grin) Did I see the words goal-setting in this post? I think I did. This is a banner day, dear. :)

And major Kudos on a successful year. It may seem like you didn't get as far as you wanted on a specific project, but the brain/muse will only do what it'll do. Besides, the process itself is invaluable.

You have plenty to pat yourself on the back for: 1st book released in trade, book signings, promotions, blogs, short stories. I could go on, but you know you're wonderful and talented :)

Loved the roller-coaster analogy. It makes me want to find a real coaster and spend the day with the wind rushing through my hair. I think we should plan a day and do it :)

sherrinda said...

Oooo....I gave you fodder for your blog! How cool is that? I want you to know I have bitten the bullet and have started my very first novel. It is daunting and am having trouble turning off the inner editor, but as my dad told me (and he heard this on the movie Forrester) you should "write from your heart and rewrite with your head". Sounds great, but hard to do sometimes. Anyway...I am having fun, but don't know if I will be able to get the first draft finished by the time I go back to work Aug. 4. :) Hope you are having a great summer!

Texas sayings

~Watch your step! Cacti, tumbleweeds, and an occasional armadillo might be ahead.

~Welcome to the land of tar-bubbling summers, gas-guzzling pickup trucks, standard Stetson headgear, and mile-high hair.

~Welcome to the Lone Star State, and Romance With A Texas Twist!

Quote of the Day