Monday, August 30, 2010


Today was an amazing day. Started in it tears, ended it exhausted. My little girl had her first day of first grade. Six hours and 15 minutes of conformist brainwashing to make her one of the masses. I say that in jest but also in earnest. A German friend and I were discussing the educational system here and she couldn't believe how many hours American children put in and how little they achieve. It couldn't have felt too long as my daughter could tell me only the minimum. They did a craft. They had recess. They did a coloring sheet. And my favorite-- "We did a bunch of stuff we learned last year."

Today was also my first day of school, my fourth semester working on my second undergraduate degree. To complement my English/French studies my first time, and to augment my career in journalism, I am studying International Affairs (a blend of history, politics, business and foreign language).

(This will relate to writing, but in a round-about way.)

So, I went to my 100-level "History of the Modern World" class today expecting to be bored out of my mind. It's a survey class. Probably lectures. Boy, was I wrong! The teacher was young, a tad crazy, very energetic. I love her.

In my 200-level class on research methods, it looks like we'll be spending the bulk of the semester on one 12-page research paper, topic of our choosing. This should be easy. Especially since I think I know what I want to do.

Between these two classes, I met with my professor from my history colloquium last semester.


For "direction."

This is really no different than how we meander through plots as writers. As writers, one common comparison of writing styles pits those who plot (plotters) against those who fly by the seats of their pants (pantsers). I am 75% plotter with a touch of pants. In life, I am the opposite. I seem organized. I seem to know what I am doing. But the reality is, I'm flying.

Since I am also trying to slow down, have more fun and relax, this has led to some interesting conflict. I have financial resources that may or may not last now that I have been unemployed for five months. I have a child that has reached full school-age. But now my past industry (journalism) is dying...

And I want more education. Like a master's in French cultural studies and/or a doctorate in history (20th century French history).

Without getting into what my professor said, he said one thing really interesting which should apply to writers: "Tell everyone your aspirations." He meant everyone who could potentially help you. Reminder~ Network.

But he also caused me to look at my motivation. I love what I'm doing now, but maybe, by relaxing and enjoying the process I can keep talking to people and find something I enjoy doing (as a career) without immediately making that jump to graduate studies. Isn't that how our characters do it? They might say "I'm going to do BLAH."

But do they? They start to. They get distracted or diverted. They might eventually end up in the place they wanted to be, but we sent them on a dynamic journey to get from A to B. We didn't make it a straight line.

To consider this, I have declared this semester and next semester a time of exploration. I have 2-3 more years working on my degree. So the next one will focus on finding the options. Then I'll start choosing what items I need to do to fulfill some of them. I can take the GREs regardless of what exactly I plan to do. I can take a French class to improve my grammar even if it doesn't fit in my major. Theoretically I could take Spanish as I've always contemplated.

If I were a character, what would the author want me to have in my background, in my current life, to make me the person I need to be for the story about to be told?

1 comment:

  1. who are you and what have you done with Angel?

    First grade and a new school year begat this much reflection. Wow. Where do I go for a kick in the pants like that?