Successful Writing, Rough Teaching

It’s the end of another long, three day stretch. Mondays are ridiculous, with work, teaching, then band. Tuesdays are pretty long, as I stay late at work to make up for leaving early to teach on Mondays and Wednesdays. Wednesdays, I work, teach, then go off to Starbucks to try and work on my book with Michael. Wednesday evening, before bed, I’m wiped out. I was so tired this evening, that I almost didn’t come out to the garage to put up this blog post.

Today, I’ve been thinking a bit more about what I want to do, and what I’m doing. On Facebook, someone had linked a video I’d seen before, in which a man is talking to students. He asks them, if money was no object, what would they be doing? The point of the video is that whatever our answer to that question is, that’s what we should be doing. It’s better to have a short life full of love and peaceful satisfaction, than a long one in which you are continually doing things you do not enjoy, just so that you can keep on living, doing those things that do not satisfy you. I agreed with that sentiment the first time, and I agreed again today.

So what am I doing? Am I satisfied? Am I doing what I’m supposed to?

When I’m wrestling with my muse, trying to get the words out, feeling the strain of the work that’s involved in writing, I have some doubts. I wonder if I’m wasting my time, scribbling down words that no one will read. I wonder if I am so arrogant as to think that people should spend their time reading my stories, listening to my voice.

These days, I’m pushing through the doubts. I know that whatever it is I do, there will be times when it feels like work. Whatever my vocation, there will be moments where I wonder if I’m doing the right thing, or doubt my ability.

Today was a tough day. I got to the kids’ school and set up for Computer Club. When I was teaching, I made some mistakes. I’m having a hard time keeping the kids interested, and I hate having to repeat myself so much. I put concepts out to them that seem like they should be simple to them at this point, but half of them seem more interested in surfing the web and playing games. I know that I’m doing a good thing, and that in the long run, some of these kids are getting some good exposure to programming that might even serve them later in life. I’ll keep teaching and doing my best, but I know that I’m not supposed to be a teacher. At this point in my life, it’s something I can do twice a week, voluntarily. If it was my full time job, I’d hate it.

On the heels of the rough computer club, I went to go write. I’d made it to the other side of the scene I’d struggled with for so long, but I still didn’t know what I was going to say in the next part. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to figure it out. I wasn’t sure I had the strength to make decisions for the story. I’d been making decisions all day, and I was feeling mentally tired.

Michael and I visited for a little bit. He told me about some of the stresses he’s feeling at home, and how he’s struggling to keep his dream of being a writer alive. While it saddened me to hear about his struggles, I welcomed the distraction, keeping me from having to face my keyboard and the hungry, blinking cursor.

Then it was time to write, and I wrote. I strained to find a place to start at first, but then I had an idea, and I pursued it. Once we got going, time flew, and the words formed easily. Michael and I had written in silence for about an hour and a half, each adding more than a thousand words to our books. It felt good. It felt like victory.

I’m not supposed to be a teacher, but I think I’m supposed to be a writer. Maybe I’ll never have readers. Maybe I’ll never make a living doing this thing that I love. It doesn’t matter. As long as I keep doing what I love, I won’t find myself at the end of my life full of regrets, wishing that I’d tried something else.


Back to School and Writing!

After the amazing week I had last week, it was difficult to get back into the normal schedule.  It was made especially challenging in that this is the week that the Computer Club I’m running just started back up yesterday.  I barely had time to recover from WorldCon before I was up in front of some kids again.

It didn’t go badly.  When I did this last year, it was my first time, and I really didn’t know what I was in for.  Yesterday, it was light and easy.  There weren’t that many kids, and two of them were my own children.  All but one of them were in the club last year, so we all knew what was going on.  It also helps that I made it High School only, rather than 6th grade and above.

I think the club is going to go really well.  I especially think that having the web site for it will make it easier, because I’m going to use it to keep notes as we go along.  It means I’ll be able to maintain a regular, steady pace, and if anyone is absent or falls behind for any reason, they’ll have a place they can go to catch up quickly and easily.  I’m excited about it, and the kids seemed excited about it, too.

After Computer Club, I went to Starbucks and met up with Michael and Cody.  Michael looked even more exhausted than I felt, which is understandable since he has the baby at home.  We talked for a bit, and we were slow to get at the writing.  We did get to it, though.  Cody seemed to be particularly prolific last night, in spite of the fact that he was writing everything by hand.

I only added about 600 words.  It was difficult for me to get that much.  I’m not huge into plotting things out in advance, but I do have a plan when going in, and I do establish milestones to write towards.  One of my problems last night was that I’d passed a milestone, and I haven’t really figured out the next one.

I have a ways to go.  It’s slow going, but I’m taking some comfort in that there is progress, in spite of all the other things going on in my life.  Tonight, I’m going to a Shut Up and Write event.  This weekend, my whole family is doing some kind of 3 mile walk.  I think it involves glow-in-the dark shirts.  And there is still the regular work, an upcoming band performance…

Honestly, 600 words is starting to sound pretty good right now.


A Busy Sunday Morning

I’ve been busy and productive!  It’s important to include both parts.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been simply busy, but didn’t actually produce anything.

With the new school year begun, it was time to sit back, wait for the bar to come down, and get ready to ride the roller coaster ride that is Computer Club.  I started it last year, because while I believe in my kids’ school, I find their computer science division to be sorely lacking.  One might even describe it as nonexistent.  So starting last year, I left work early two days a week in order to fill the brains of students with what I know about computer programming, heaven help them.

It went okay.  I made some mistakes, the main one being that I had kids ranging from 6th grade through high school.  The age range was too wide, which lead to the pace of the whole program being too slow and varied, which lost the interest of the serious students.  So this year, I’m narrowing it to high school age only.  I’ll probably wind up with very few students this year, but maybe that’ll be better, too.  We will see.

Here is the new web site I put up for the Computer Club.  My plan is to use it heavily for keeping notes and staying on track in maintaining a solid pace.

In other news, I went to a Shut Up and Write event yesterday and I got a ton of writing done!  In addition to adding about 2500 words to my book, I plotted out some more of the backstory.  I’m not a huge plotter, but it needed to be done in order for the context of what I’m currently writing to make sense.  To rephrase, my characters were entering a place where they’d been before but couldn’t remember, and I needed to figure out what they did while they were there before.  It’s way more confusing to describe than it is to just read.

Tonight, the band I play with has a performance.  That should be fun!  Some of the stuff we’ll be playing should go over really well.  Some of it, I expect to be a bit of a train wreck.

Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll post about WorldCon!